Reading the book, it becomes clear that the road ahead is still long and difficult. Actually, one major merit of Moran's work is probably that it highlights some of the main research priorities of the new field, e.
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At least for non specialists, the best part of the book is probably the "technical" one that presents spatial approaches to the study of human-environment interactions. A spatial perspective can per se improve our knowledge in the study of "traditional" sociological or anthropological themes, but it becomes crucial for sustainability issues. However, a spatial approach means more than simply adding a geographical playground to individuals' actions.
Rather, it means understanding landscape and other geographical characters both as important factors affecting agents' behaviour and as the ultimate target of their actions. GIS and remote sensing approaches can furnish nowadays an enormous amount or information with amazing precision. Nevertheless, this information is of little use if it is not explicitly incorporated in social-ecological models capable of linking it with the behaviour of agents living into the space under consideration.
While there is much to praise in Moran's work, one of the most deceiving part of the book is unfortunately the one closer to the interests of JASSS readers.
Being accustomed to social simulation, I found the section devoted to agent-based modelling too simplistic. For instance, while recognizing that ABM may be an effective tool for exploring the complexity of social-ecological system, Moran complains against the abstraction of large part of simulation-based research. While it is true that early modellers usually designed highly abstract settings, since at least ten years it is quite commonplace to integrate ABM with empirical data.
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While the classic, from this point of view, is probably Axtell et al. Data are often drawn from experimental or field research e.
Emilio F. Environmental Social Science offers a new synthesis of environmental studies, defining the nature of human-environment interactions and providing the foundation for a new cross-disciplinary enterprise that will make critical theories and research methods accessible across the natural and social sciences.
Environment & society | School of Earth and Sustainability
Makes key theories and methods of the social sciences available to biologists and other environmental scientists Explains biological theories and concepts for the social sciences community working on the environment Helps bridge one of the difficult divides in collaborative work in human-environment research Includes much-needed descriptions of how to carry out research that is multinational, multiscale, multitemporal, and multidisciplinary within a complex systems theory context. Theories and Concepts from the Social Sciences.
Theories and Concepts from the Biological. Spatially Explicit Approaches.