|Ecology in Development: A Rationale for Three-dimensional Policy (UNU, 1984, 59 pages)|
|I. The paradox|
Ecology has become a popular word. But it means different things to different people. In ordinary parlance which can never be entirely divorced from scientific usage it is inexact and emotive. So what does ecology mean for practical purposes?
Ecology has three dimensions of meaning:
1) a natural dimension - it directs attention to the systemic relationships that compose concrete, natural reality;
2) a social or political dimension - it has different social referents according to where the actor stands in relation to others in an ecosystemic whole, in which all manoeuvre for advantage or power; and
3) a cultural or ideological dimension - it stands for a value (it is good), and has the quality and power of a symbol (it moves us).
But we must bear in mind that it is in the nature of symbols not to give exact or unitary or unequivocal meaning (See, for example, Leach 1976). We should be suspicious, therefore, of any pretension that ecology gives complete and clear answers, and careful to distinguish among the different dimensions of its usage.