Environmental sociology
Soc 111
Fall 2008
Environmental sociology
 Study of the interaction between the physical
environment and social
 Has roots in demographic research as well as
rural sociology.
 Subfield emerged during the late 1970s
 Flurry of research beginning in the 1990s
Environmental sociology
 Academic discipline that emerged largely as a
result of a social movement
 Many disciplines now have an “environmental
studies” component.
Social movement
 Arises from discontent w/
some aspect of society
 Intend to address social
problem & create social
 Organize to promote or
resist social change
Environmental movement
 Proactive social movement
 A “new social movement”
 AKA transnational social movement
Paradigm shift
 Refers to a significant
change in a scientific
thinking or worldview
 Coined by Thomas Kuhn
 HEP (Human
 Dominant from Industrial
Revolution until the mid to
late 20th century
 NEP (New Ecological
 Emerged during 1970s
 Coincided with dominant Western worldview
 So uniquely superior and adaptive that
humans are exempt from environmental
 Complexity of culture makes humans rise
completely above biological forces
 Natural world is seen as a force to be subdued
 Research during the 1960s
and 70s increasingly
contradicted HEP
 Riley Dunlap and William
Catton Jr. coined the term
 Acknowledges the
uniqueness of human
culture but argues humans
are interdependent with
the ecosystem
Examples of studies
 Impact of social
organization on physical
industrial farming practices
and effects on groundwater
pollution and/or surrounding
community health
 CAFOs and declining
property values
 Impact of physical
environment on social
buying organic or local foods
to mitigate
effects of industrial ag.
Resource mobilization theory
 Explains why the environmental movement
(or any other social movement) is successful
or unsuccessful
 Focuses on the ability of a social movement
to mobilize people, gain media attention,
raise money, and influence public opinion and
social policy.
To be effective
 Social movements must be highly organized
and goal oriented
 Effectiveness depends on
 Problematizing a phenomenon
 Soliciting time and talent
 Presenting a “palatable” solution
Environmental movement
 Has been extremely effective
 Academic disciplines
 Both presidential candidates ran on this
 http://www.greenworkscleaners.com/?WT.srch=1
 http://www.greencleanusa.org/
 http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/116/seasonle