Economic Hierarchies and Social Structures

Economic Hierarchy refers to the structure of which money is dispersed to people and the ability of those with more money to exert power over those with less. Economic hierarchies are seen everywhere. In many cases Many people and groups tend to think that the best way to sustain the environment is to assign a value to it. Economic hierarchy also can determine who has control over the environment. This is why outside (Western) organizations and corporations have the ability to implement whatever conservation policies they so desire in a more rural region. Even though, often times, these policies, because they are not tailored to that environment and the people who live there, are unsuccessful. Many western organizations have the idea that development is the key to successfully managing and conserving the environment. However, often times development projects do not fix the problems. There is evidence that economic growth does not always mean positive environmental management.

Things such as gender, race and class also need to be considered because these social structures and hierarchies influence the way societies think about and interact with their environment. These structures are also different  for different societies and communities, meaning that conservation practices need to be tailored to each society and the way they think about these structures needs to be a part of the process. For example, in the case of gender, in some societies women do not have access to the same knowledge, resources and land as men do. This influences the way the community members interact with their environment. Women are often times associate with nature because in a lot of indigenous communities they interact with it more through gathering and cooking.

Click on the links below for additional information regarding social structures and hierarchies:

Is Female to Nature as Male is to Culture? 

Rural household demographics, livelihoods and the environment

The Nature of Gender: Work, Gender and the Environment 

What is Degrowth?