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Social Ecography : International trade, network analysis, and an Emmanuelian conceptualization of ecological unequal exchange


  • Carl Nordlund

Summary, in English

This thesis demonstrates how network analysis, ecological economics and the world-system perspective can be combined into an ecographic framework that can yield new insights into the underlying structure of the world-economy as well as its surrounding world-ecology. In particular, the thesis focuses on the structural theory of ecological unequal exchange, a theory suggesting a relationship between positionality within the world-system and unequal exchange of biophysical resources.

Using formal tools from social network analysis, the theory is tested on empirical trade data for two commodity types – primary agricultural goods and fuel commodities – for the period 1995-1999. As the selected commodities can be seen as adequate representations of the third Ricardian production factor, i.e. natural resources, ecological unequal exchange as conceptualized in this thesis is more in line with the original Emmanuelian factor-cost theory than previous approaches. Here, similar to Emmanuel’s formulation, it is a theory about factor cost differentials.

Whereas the theory mostly holds true in the case of fuel commodities, the analysis of primary agricultural commodities actually points to an inverse relationship between structural positionality and ecological unequal exchange. This could point to a fundamental difference between these two types of commodities, for instance as reflected in an observed ecological Leontief paradox, which underlines the need for more detailed, and less typological, treatments of ecological unequal exchange.


Publishing year





Lund studies in human ecology



Document type



Department of Social and Economic Geography, Lund University


  • Social and Economic Geography


  • ecological unequal exchange
  • commodity trade
  • ecological economics
  • world-system analysis
  • network analysis
  • human ecology
  • ecography





  • ISSN: 1403-5022
  • ISBN: 978-91-628-8138-2

Defence date

11 September 2010

Defence time


Defence place

Världen, Geocentrum 1, Sölvegatan 10, Lund, Sweden


  • Richard York (Dr)