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Soc 101 Environmental Sociology April 3rd 2013.docx

Course Code
Barry Mc Clinchey

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Soc 101 Environmental Sociology April 3rd 2013
What is Environmental Sociology?
The study of interaction between human society and the physical environment
Pipeline from Alberta, supports and oppositions
1970s- widespread public interest in environmental issues
Connection with ecology, appreciation of ecosystem
Apply biological insights to enhance their understanding of the relationship between
human society and the physical environment
Emphasis given to exploring how social factors impact the environment
Relationship between Humans and Their Physical Environment
Three broad orientations
o The physical environment is viewed as a warehouse of raw materials to be
exploited; nature by itself has no intrinsic value (scientific or economic approach
to the environment)
French and British beaver pelts in Canada
o The physical environment has an almost sacred and spiritual value and human
have a unique obligation to act as its stewards and protectors (mystical approach
and deep ecology)
o The physical environment and human beings exist in a harmonious relationship
wherein human needs can be achieved without damaging the physical
environment (sustainable development or more radical, utopian thinking)
New Environmental Paradigm
o Human social actions occur within an ecosystem that has its own processes and
o Out behaviour effects nature
o Recognizes that human societies and the natural environment interact with each
other; human behaviour affects nature
o Polar bears dwindling population due to global warming and loss of ice caps
New Ecological Paradigm
o Emphasizes that modern industrial society is beginning to exceed the limits of the
o Ecocentric view: humans are only one part of the global ecosystem
o Conscious endeavour to overcome anthropocentrism of our past
Triple Bottom Line
o Utopian notion
o Business think about effects on planet and effects of people in addition to profit
Environmental Challenges
Natural vs. Technological Disasters
o Ulrich Beck in his Risk Society promoted the concept of risk and risk research in
contemporary sociology
o Investigates how technology is creating global challenges we could never have
o Only in the last few generations have human created technology that has global
o The contemporary risk to society is less about natural disasters and more about
unrestricted tehcoholgical development
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