Societal Relations to nature
With the term “societal relations to nature” we describe the patterns and practices for the material regulation and cultural symbolization of relationships between individuals, society and nature. These historically and culturally variable relationships are created by societies within the nutrition, mobility, labour and production, sexuality and reproduction context etc. Society and nature are not related in their entireness; rather, in different action fields social and natural elements are interlinked in specific ways. Thus, it is essential that the concept of societal relationships to nature is a pluralistic one; one cannot speak of a single relationship.
Societal relations to nature are symbolically mediated material-energetic patterns of regulation. They must be regulated in every society in such a way so as to sustain the cross-generational continuation of societal processes necessary for life. The regulation of material and energy flows is linked to a multiplicity of cultural symbolizations and embedded thereby in societal structures and processes of communication. The meaning of given patterns regulation, and their dependency on societal norms and power regulations, are determined within such symbolic contexts.
Within the scope of societal relationships to nature, some patterns and structures can be emphasised as basal. Their regulation is crucial for the reproduction and development of societies and their natural living conditions: labour and production, nutrition, sexuality and reproduction, mobility and locomotion etc. At the same time, these areas are profoundly endangered. An ecological crisis displays the manner in which particular patterns of regulation fail, and, as a result, crisis phenomena emerge at local, regional, and global levels. As hypothesised in the demons-project, the regulation of societal relations to nature is considerably influenced by supply systems.
(; February 2004)
Supply systems are structures, which have been established over time to provide people with such goods as water, food, energy and fuels, housing etc. These systems mediate between society and nature, so that ecological, societal, technical, and political processes are linked closely. Supply systems possess material-energetic as well as cultural-symbolic dimensions and are variable in time, space, and culture. But they cannot be designed arbitrarily, because they have to meet needs, necessities, and demands of the current and future population (which can differ in size, density and structure). Hence, supply systems must be able to react to different population dynamics and to alterations in needs, demand, and life-styles.
(; September 2003)