Theorizing and Rethinking Linkages Between the Natural Environment and the Modern World-System: Deforestation in the Late 20th Century

Thomas J. Burns, Edward L. Kick, Byron L. Davis

Abstract


Building on prior work in world-system analysis and human ecology, we test a macro-level theory that social and demographic causes of deforestation will vary across zones of the modern world-system. Using multivariate regression analysis, we examine models of deforestation over the period 1990-2000. We test for main effects of world-system posmon, two different population variables (urbanization and proportion under working age), and economic development within zone, as well as for the contextual effects of these variables as they operate differently across world-system positions. Our findings indicate that generic models of deforestation need to be qualified, because the particular social factors most closely associated with deforestation tend to vary by position in the global hierarchy. Deforestation at the macro level is best explained by considering effects of socio-demographic processes contextually, in terms of world-system dynamics. We discuss the findings in a more general world-systems and behavioral ecological framework, and suggest the field will be well served with more precise theorizing and closer attention to scope conditions.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2003.237

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Copyright (c) 2015 Thomas J. Burns, Edward L. Kick, Byron L. Davis

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