In recent years social (or more narrowly termed industrial) metabolism became a prominent concept in sustainability science as many global sustainability problems are directly associated with humanities growing demand for raw materials and their transformation into wastes and emissions after processing and use. Social metabolism captures the quantity of economic resource use, the material composition and the sources and sinks of the output flows and recognizes that these are a function of socio-economic production and consumption systems that are highly variable across time and space. The lecture introduces the concept, its application in studying socio-ecological transition processes and its significance for sustainable development. The first part of the lecture provides a historical socio-metabolic perspective on the changing relationship between energy and land use during industrialization and shows how national and global resource use has changed during the past 200 years. In the second part of the lecture, the basics of material flow analysis, one of the methods to study social metabolism, are introduced.