Sociology Index

Sociology of Environment Abstracts

Cornell University provides an overview of Sociology of Environment and hyperlinks to resources on the Web.

Environmental Sociology and the Explanation of Environmental Reform
Frederick H. Buttel, University of Wisconsin, Madison - This article makes the case that environmental sociology is in the midst of a significant shift of problematics, from the explanation of environmental degradation to the explanation of environmental reform. In this article, the author suggests that there are four basic mechanisms of environmental reform or improvement: environmental activism/movements, state environmental regulation, ecological modernization, and international environmental governance.

He suggests further that although 'green consumerism' is one of the most frequently discussed mechanisms of environmental improvement within environmental sociology and in movement discourse, green consumerist arguments generally tend to rest on one or more of the other four mechanisms of environmental reform. One of the main tasks of environmental sociology will be to assess which of these four mechanisms is the most fundamental to environmental reform. The author concludes with the hypothesis that environmental movements and activism are ultimately the most fundamental pillars of environmental reform.

Definitional and Responsive Environmental Meanings: A Meadian Look at Landscapes and Drought.- Andrew J. Weigert
Current conceptual frameworks differ deeply on the meanings of human-natural environment relations. One is a monist social constructionist frame: meaning is only in human definitions, and natural events are meaningless. The other offers dualist perspectives that locate meaning both in definitions and in realist indications of environmental events such as global environmental change. I apply a metatheoretical schema based on the work of George H. Mead to meanings of natural environment implicated in a discussion of an official pronouncement, 'The drought is over'.

Footprints on the Earth: The Environmental Consequences of Modernity 
Richard York, Eugene A. Rosa, Thomas Dietz
American Sociological Review, Vol. 68, No. 2 (Apr., 2003)
Abstract: Growing evidence demonstrating clear threats to the sustainability of the ecosystems supporting human societies has given rise to a variety of sociological theories of human-environment interactions. These environmental impact theories fall into three general perspectives: human ecology, modernization, and political economy. Basic material conditions, such as population, economic production, urbanization, and geographical factors all affect the environment and explain the vast majority of cross-national variation in environmental impact. Factors derived from neo-liberal modernization theory, such as political freedom, civil liberties, and state environmentalism have no effect on impacts.

A Very Brief History of the Origins of environmental ethics for the Novice - The inspiration for environmental ethics was the first Earth Day in 1970 when environmentalists started urging philosophers who were involved with environmental groups to do something about environmental ethics.


Mulberg, Jon - "Environment and Sociology: The State of the Debate"
Global Environmental Politics - Volume 3, Number 1, February 2003, pp. 125-142 The MIT Press.
Excerpt: The collection is based on a regional conference of the environment research group of the International Sociological Association, and is one of several overviews of the literature in books and journals over the last few years.
Firstly, there are attempts to map out the approaches to environmental sociology, and identify the underlying axis of disagreement of the differing theoretical schemas. From these axis, three distinct debates emerge from the chapters in the collection. The question of the extent to which classical social theory can offer any insights into global environmental issues is a major area of contention. A second debate, which has been prominent in the literature for some time, concerns the extent to which questions of environment are socially constructed. However, the main business of the book concerns the theory of ecological modernization, of which two of the editors are among the main developers, and much of the collection concerns expositions and critiques of this approach.