Ecosystem services between integration and economics imperialism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Here, we explore the interdisciplinary merits of the ecosystem services concept by recruiting the notion of economics imperialism. We identify four different ways in which interdisciplinary concepts can fail as interdisciplinary concepts, three of which are associated with imperialism. First, interdisciplinary concepts can fail to be integrative, typically by being overtly flexible or vague. The remaining three ways, which typically mark imperialist infringements, are: failure to achieve ontological unification, failure to maintain or accommodate a plurality of accounts when it is suitable, and the obfuscation of social or ethical values. We analyze some of the critiques that have been raised with respect to the ecosystem services concept as a case of economics imperialism. We conclude by discussing the scope and limits of the concept more broadly and what those mean for an interdisciplinary ecosystem services science going forward.


External organisations
  • University of Helsinki
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Philosophy
  • Environmental Sciences


  • ecosystem services, scientific imperialism, integration, interdisciplinarity
Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch