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Social sciences and the mining sector: Some insights into recent research trends


  • Karakaya, Emrah
  • Nuur, Cali


The number of science publications is growing exponentially, thus increasing the need for understanding the knowledge base of various research streams and their emerging branches. From a social science perspective, the literature on the mining sector – the industrial sector that extracts ores and minerals from the ground – has also witnessed steady growth. However, this literature is rather fragmented in regards to the thematic topics and the geographical focus. To respond to this, this paper offers a systematic literature review of the social science research on the mining sector. The publication database of this review includes a set of 483 systemically selected papers from 976 authors, covering empirical research conducted in 73 countries from 5 continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America. Our contribution is twofold. Firstly, we provide an analysis of the geography of the research in terms of both authorship and empirical focus. In terms of the geographical coverage of the empirical cases, Australia appears as the most studied country in the field, followed by countries in other regions such as Asia (China, India, Russia and Turkey), Africa (Ghana, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), North America (the USA and Canada), Latin America (Brazil and Chile) and Europe (Poland, Spain and Sweden). However, this dispersion is not reflected in the geographical coverage of the affiliations of the authors. Secondly, we identify the most popular social science research topics on the mining sector. Our results show that the social science research on the mining sector shifted from the traditional research streams (e.g., industrialisation and growth, colonialization, technological and economic development, and the resource curse) to the new streams of research on social, environmental and economical sustainability (e.g., the social license to operate, corporate social responsibility, criticality of the rare earth elements, material flow analysis and environmental impacts). Overall, our study serves as an entry point for researches who are interested in social science research on the mining sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Karakaya, Emrah & Nuur, Cali, 2018. "Social sciences and the mining sector: Some insights into recent research trends," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 257-267.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:257-267
    DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2018.05.014

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