Sociology of Environment

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Overview. WelcomeNY PIRG RepresentativeBusinessLearning How to Read [for this course]Review of DWW/ HEP/ NEP ParadigmsPresentationContemporary TheoriesNeo-MarxismTreadmill of ProductionEcological ModernizationBeck's Risk SocietyNew Social MovementsPostmaterialist Values Thesis. Learning

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Sociology of Environment

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1. Sociology of Environment Monday September 12, 2005 Week 3 Introduction to Contemporary Theories

2. Overview Welcome NY PIRG Representative Business Learning How to Read [for this course] Review of DWW/ HEP/ NEP Paradigms Presentation Contemporary Theories Neo-Marxism Treadmill of Production Ecological Modernization Beck’s Risk Society New Social Movements Postmaterialist Values Thesis

3. Learning How to Read Review Material – Ask Key, Critical Questions What is this [reading] about? Why is it important [at least to the author]? What is the author’s conclusion? How has the author constructed his/her arguments? Why does the author construct his/her arguments this way? What is missing from his/her arguments, conclusion? I don’t expect you to read every word BUT I do expect you to know the content, arguments, conclusions of the material assigned Some material is easier to use this approach than others

4. Review of DWW/ HEP/ NEP Return to: DWW, HEP, NEP (Catton & Dunlap) Dominant Western World View 1. People are fundamentally different from all other creatures on earth, over which they have dominion. 2. People are the masters of their own destiny; they can choose their goals and learn to do whatever is necessary to achieve them. 3. The world is vast, and thus provides unlimited opportunities for humans. 4. The history of humanity is one of progress; for every problem there is a solution, and thus progress need never cease.

5. Review of DWW/ HEP/ NEPCont. Human Exemptionalism Paradigm 1. Humans have a cultural heritage in addition (and distinct from) their genetic inheritance and thus are quite unlike all other animals species 2. Social and cultural factors (including technology) are the major determinants of human affairs 3. Social and cultural environments are the crucial context for human affairs, and the biophysical environment is largely irrelevant. 4. Culture is cumulative; thus technological and social progress can continue indefinitely, making all social problems ultimately soluble.

6. Review of DWW/ HEP/ NEP Cont. New Ecological Paradigm 1. Even though humans have exceptional characteristics (culture, technology, etc), they are but one among many species that are interdependently involved in the global ecosystem. 2. Human affairs are influenced not only by social and cultural factors, but also by intricate linkages of cause, effect, and feedback in the web of nature; thus purposive human actions have many unintended consequences. 3. Humans live in and are dependent upon a finite biophysical environment that imposes potent physical and biological restraints on human affairs. 4. However much the inventiveness of humans or the powers derived there-from may seem for a while to transcend carrying capacity, ecological laws cannot be repealed.

7. Contemporary Theories in Environmental Sociology Introduction US Environmental Sociology – 1970s – recently Lacked Theoretical Depth (Two Exceptions) Largely Empirically Based Rise of RC 24 – International Sociological Association Important “Bridge” to US Environmental Sociology European Theoretical Development Infusion of Theory from Europe Global South – Infusion of Postcolonial Studies

8. Contemporary Theories Neo-Marxism (Red & Green) Readings: Foster “Chpt.1: Ecology Against Capitalism” “Capitalism Against Ecology” (note title change) Nature of Capitalism Expansionist Logic Commodification of Nature (ignore ecological services) Short Time Horizon Failure of Kyoto Protocol Myth of Dematerialization

9. Neo-Marxism Cont. Other Neo-Marixist Theories The 2nd Contradiction of Capitalism (James O’Connor) 1st Contradiction – Demand side of Profits from Inequities 2nd Contradiction – Destruction of the natural resource base upon which economic production depends

10. Neo-Marxism Cont. Other Neo-Marxist Theories Cont. The Theory of Metabolic Rift (J.B.Foster from Marx) “Robbing the Soil as well as Labor” Separation of agricultural village and city Soil fertility and urban/ industrial growth The Role of the State in Neo-Marxist Views of Environment?

11. Contemporary Theories Cont. Treadmill of Production [TOP] Reading: Schaiberg et al. “Treadmill of Production” Large Body of Works – Schnaiberg and a fine cadre of students Two Types of Treadmills Ecological Treadmill Social Treadmill

12. Treadmill of Production Cont. The Role of the Environmental State (Government) Under TOP – What is the role of the State? Other readings – “Societal-Environmental Dialectic” Economic Growth Thesis Managed Planned Scarcity Antithesis (Rise of Environmental Policies) Dialectic without Synthesis Is TOP – Conservative, Managerial or Radical?

13. Contemporary Theories Cont. Ecological Modernization Readings: Mol – “Ecological Modernization” Basis – Conflict between Economy & Ecology is NOT inevitable Sustainability is a worthwhile/ achievable goal Both economic and environmental gain through technological advancement Economic restructuring (around ecological principles) E.g. Industrial Ecology

14. Ecological Modernization Cont. The Role of the Environmental State Active/ Essential/ Engaged Independent Force (not dominated by Markets) New Institutions Emerge Cooperation/ Negotiations among key players – Markets/Industry – Government Regulators – Environmental Community- NGOs EM – Positive Example of Reflexive Modernization

15. Ecological Modernization Cont. Is EM Conservative, Managerial or Radical? Differences between EM and TOP? Does one HAVE to be right and other wrong?

16. Contemporary Theories Cont. Beck’s Risk Society Readings: Sutton: “Environmentalism in a Risk Society” Social and Ecological Consequence of Continued Industrialization & Urbanization Risks become increasingly present over time Society increasingly engaged with risk issues Shift of focus from industrial “goods” to industrial “bads”

17. Beck’s Risk Society Cont. Continuation of Modernization (not Postmodernity) Processes New Stage based upon Reflective Modernization (Unseen, unplanned, autonomous transition) Shift of discourse / conflict – “..over material inequities and quarrels over the distribution of the ‘wealth cake’, a realisation dawns that the cake itself is poisoned.” (Beck 1995: 128) Risk Society – Industrially-based production of consumer goods – create the risk

18. Beck’s Risk Society Cont. Nature – becomes socialized an extension of society (McKibben – End of Nature) Nature becomes politics Green Environmentalism arises from the poison Environmentalism broader critique of Industrialization based on science What about the Environmental State? Is Risk Society – Conservative, Managerial or Radical?

19. Contemporary Theories Cont. New [Postmodern] Social Movements Civil / Human Rights, Environment, Peace, Anti-Nuclear, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, Anti-globalization, etc. Social Movement Defined– Group Action (informal collection of individuals and organizations to push for social change) Differ from “Old” Social Movements Old Social Movements – Material Gains E.g. Living Standards (Laborers) New Social Movements – Non Material Gains E.g. Expansion of Rights; New Lifestyles; New Values

20. Contemporary Theories Cont. Postmaterialist Values Thesis Work of Ronald Inglehart (1977, 1990) Explanation for the Social Revolution of the 1960s in Western Industrialized Countries Built on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [see next slide] Mannheim’s Theory of Generations [cohort effect] The New Social Values of New Social Movements Values based increasingly on Political Stability & Economic Abundance

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