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Society and Environment Reading Notes (wk 2).docx

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SOC 2280
Mark Juhasz

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Society and Environment Reading Notes Chapter 2: Human Systems, Environment & Social Science SOCIOCULTURAL SYSTEMS  A network of interdependent actors (individuals, organizations, subsystems) that are in relatively stable patterns of interaction and intercommunication. These actors share cultural patterns.  Systems theory:  Everything is ultimately connected to everything else  You can‟t ever do or change just one thing without some consequences Elements of sociocultural systems:  Culture= worldviews, paradigms, ideologies, knowledge, beliefs, values, symbols, language.  Social Structure= World system, society, Nation state, complex organizations, social stratification systems, small groups, kinship systems, status roles.  Material Infrastructure= wealth, material culture, technologies, human population, human environment relations, biophysical resources. Culture  The total learned way of life that people in groups share  Has both symbolic and material dimensions  Worldviews (flat earth)  Thomas Kuhn- Structure of scientific revolutions;  Kuhn argued for an episodic model in which periods of such conceptual continuity in normal science were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science. During revolutions in science the discovery of anomalies leads to a whole new paradigm that changes the rules of the game.  Hegemony= the cultural predominance of one country upon another‟s.  Adaptation-Mitigation Social Institutions  Both structural and cultural  Supported as they are by powerful cultural customs and laws. Social Structure  Structural units of human systems are statuses and roles. Your status is the „rank‟ and your social role is what you are „expected to do‟.  Population size and characteristics= growth population > develop complex subsystems, more demands on biophysical environment. The Duality of Human Life  The cultural uniqueness of human beings  We are species among many but we are the unique creators of technologies and sociocultural environments that have the power to change, manipulate, destroy etc. (Buttel, 1986).  Humans act on the basis of such viewpoints rather than on the basis of what the world „really is‟.  Anthropocentrism= is the position that human beings are the central or most significant animal species. Worldviews and Cognized Environments  Human social behaviour is more directly related to symbolic constructions and definitions of situations than by external environments. > People exist in natural environments but live and act in worlds mediated and constructed by cultural symbols.  Cognitive environments are also components  Symbolism (Bourdieu – Symbolic Capital in finite supply)  Stoicism=The Stoics provided a unified account of the world, consisting of formal logic, non-dualistic physics and naturalistic ethics. Of these, they emphasized ethics as the main focus of human knowledge.  Green Economies  Bruce Morito ~ beyond anthropocentrism  Epistemology= (understanding knowledge)  Phenomenology= in Husserl's conception, is primarily concerned with the systematic reflection on and study of the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness. HISTORICAL CHANGE, HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIPS AND WORLDVIEWS Hunter-gatherer Societies  Survived by gathering edible wild plants and killing animals, and foraged.  Travelled in bands of about 50 people following game and the seasons carrying all possessions with them. Each band was independent but shared language, cultures and territory etc. Agricultural Societies  10,000 years ago people discovered how to cultivate crops and to domesticate and breed animals.  Horticuluturalists and pastoralists could produce a large and more certain food supply.  More division of labour.  Increase in social inequality-social elites > rules, specialists, who looked after food.  Land exploitation and surplus  Technological advance-stimulated the invention of metalworking, craft production of all sorts and military conquest, slavery and empires.  Human social life vastly increased. Population increased.  90% of people lived as farmers in rural villages  Social differentiation and complexity increased  Resource exhaustion>migration/wars  Hierarchies; 1) kings and nobles 2) priest and scribes 3) merchants and warriors 4) craft workers 5) vast majority at the bottom who worked the land. >gender inequality became far more pronounced and life became shorter- health grain-based diets were less nutritious and less varied. The Human-Environment connection in Agriculture  Many agriculture societies degraded the productivity of their soils and rivers through pollution  Deforestation  Keeping too many animals on semi-arid rangeland  Long-term processes of desertification and land degradation included times of accelerated rates of loss of arable land and land reclamation (Adams, 1981). Worldviews in Agricultural Societies  Dominant word view (DWV) began to shift from people-in-nature to people- controlling (or against) nature. > Humans domination of nature to accumulate wealth and materials. Industrial Societies  Industrialisation depends upon- first the textile industry in England- substituted machine production for human and animal labour. New energy recourses to power them.  People migrated to cities – jobs etc.  New class system based on industrial wealth evolved  Work became separated from family life  Massive development in scientific discovery and application of science  Separated humans from nature, destroyed sense of community and made us dependent on vast international systems.  Produces fragmented (autonomous) individuals and families with little connection to community at several levels (Young, 1994). Human-Environment Relations in Industrial Societies  Increased human use and withdrawals from biophysical resource base.  Biggest change was the use of fossil fuels. The Dominant Worldviews of Industrial Societies  DWV= humans, by virtue of culture and technology have a unique power to change, manipulate and sometimes transcend natural environmental limits;  Low evaluation of nature  Compassion mainly for those near and dear  Maximising wealth is important (even with risks)  No physical limits to growth that can‟t be overcome by technological inventiveness.  Assumption that modern society, culture and politics are basically okay. EXPLAINING SOCIOCULTURAL EVOLUTION: HUMAN ECOLOGY AND POLITICAL ECONOMY Ecosystems and Sociocultural Evolution  Sociocultural evolution begins when humans compete for control over limited natural resources > some people and groups develop more efficient infrastructures related to subsistence.  Human Ecology Theory; Social Symbolic culture, Biophysical Culture care, organization, worldviews, Environment material social ideologies. infrastructure. structure.  Symbol systems can blend, and components can be added or subtracted from culture, thereby making it difficult to predict what is being inherited or transformed (Freese). > Humans systems don‟t evolve but they change and develop.  The evolution of complex Sociocultural systems; Nomadic world settled cities, city- nation bands, villages, states, states, systems of hunter- agriculture ancient urban nations, gatherers
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