SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Anthropocentrism, Gaia Hypothesis, Ecofeminism

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Published on 23 Aug 2010
Chapter 16: Sociology and the Environment
Toward Environmental Sociology
x Flying releases pollution of C02 with twice as harmful effects as on the ground
x 3OHGJHIOLJKW´*ROGSOHGJH- QRIOLJKWVIRUD\HDU6LOYHU3OHGJH´- 2 short flights or 1 long
Why is Environmental Concern Relatively New?
(1) For 20th century sociologists environment- came to mean something quite different from our physical surroundings
x Nurture rather than nature- enforced more social factors rather than bio and physical factors in influencing human
(2) Human Exceptionalism Paradigm: worldview that features the ideals of society evolving social progress, increasing
poverty and material comfort, and class mobility for all segments of society, while ignoring the environmental costs of
economic growth
x VILUVWEHJDQWRVWXG\WKHHIIHFWVRIHQYLURQPHQW- it can act as a contextual, an independent or dependent
Environmental Sociology: study of all of the social aspects of the environment
x its study has developed from multiple nuclei-lack of unification
x but unified in the recognition of the existence of a key value conflict in contemp society between those who hold an
environmentalist view and those who do not
Environment Value Conflict
x focus is on the value cleavage of environmentalists and their supporters- they advocate a more passive and less
manipulative approach to the environment
Dominant Paradigm: a widely accepted view of the world that emphasizes the moral imperative of material wealth creation
and the moral conviction that humans have the inalienable right to dominate nature and harness the environment to that
x institutions reflect this paradigm- promote wealth, job creation and economic expansion
x landing on the moon, panama canal and trans can railway show our dominance natural hazards and barriers
Alternative Environmental Paradigm: set of beliefs that challenge the centrality of economic growth, technological progress,
and the human domination of nature as pillars of society- stresses the need to adopt small scale, decentralized economic
and political structures that are in harmony with nature
x resources are limited and should be conserved- society should adopt a small scale, de-centralized economic and
political structures that are in harmony with nature
x Attempt to bridge the differences between the two=
Sustainable Development: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs ( from the Bruntland Report)
x Argues that we can have the best of both worlds economic growth without sacrificing the environment
x Critics-1) sustainable development requires an extraordinary degree of cooperation and a deep commitment to
reform (which is difficult to achieve in poorer countries) 2) in real life it is not as easy to balance economic growth
with natural resource protection
Environment Attitudes, Concerns, and Behaviours
x NEP scale- 12 item scale-In general public moderately accepted the content of emerging environmental
paradigm/environmentalists strongly endorse it
x 2 extra strategies: 1) Ask ppl how worried they are about a series of enviro problems 2) Ask respondents to weight
tradeoffs( job vs environment)
Broad-Base Hypothesis: environmental concerns will eventually spread beyond it present social base- that is, of young, well
educated, urban, politically liberal citizens- to all of society
Economic-Contingency Hypothesis: broadening of the social base of environment concern is contingent on prevailing
economic conditions. When economic conditions worsen or are perceived as worsening, those who are least well off will be
first to shift their focus away form the environment to the economy
x both of these theories are untrue as the level and location of enviro protection has remained relatively stable
x prestige and income are weakly related to environmental concern
x higher levels of education, youth, political liberalism and urban residence were found to be good predictors
x concerns for enviro problems vary for the diff scenarios which may be due to how it affects us
x but those who score positively on enviro concern polls tend to not go out of their way to exceedingly protect the
x People are willing to pay lip service to protecting the environment and will behave responsibly as long as it not
appreciably more expensive or inconvenient to do so ex) throwing stuff in the recycling is due to its availability
The Environment Movement
Social Base and Composition
x Early 19th century- social movement generally organized and created by the wealthy in tight knit communities
x Canada- environmental initiatives (national parks etc.) = small groups pf civil servants
x Most significant even in conservationist are the first national park and the signing of US-CAN migr. Bird convention
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