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SOC101Y1 (470)
Chapter 2

Starting Points Chapter 2 Notes.docx

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Dan Dolderman

Starting Points Chapter 2 Notes Learning Objectives * Learn the effects of population size and type on experiences * Consider the interrelationship between the natural and built environment we live in * Recognise the problematic relationship between population and environment Chapter Outline * We will learn how population, cities, and natural environment continue to affect us as human beings living in societies. > look at patterns in population size and population growth in both developed and developing countries > and consider the many pressures endured by both the built and natural environment in accommodating the billions people on earth. * Society is made up with people * increasing of world population > concern about over population and effect to its environment * Climate change is also a big issue * The difference between rural area and urban area > population of cities are much larger > technologies such as subway, are found in the cities > the built environment of a city conflicts with natural environment in many harmful ways Ways of looking at … Population * in the realm of population and environment analysis, 2 main approaches are microanalytical > functional and critical theories Functionalism * the idea of population issues (like food supply) was first put forward in 1798, by one of the founders of demography. > Thomas Malthus was the first one to make concern about over population. * Malthus argued that, while the Earth’s available food increases additively, population increases exponentially. > basically more food, more people > however, at the end, food supply will be slower because of limited source. * Malthus proposed that limits would keep population growth in line with the food supply. * So Malthus right? > Today, in Central Africa, women still bear an average of four, five, six children. > world food production is increasing, but the rate is slowed down. > 1970-90 = grew by 64% , 1990-2009, = grew by 24% > hungry people declined from 878 million in 1970 to 825 million in the mid 1990s, > but it is increasing since then Critical Theory’s approach to Malthus * Sociologists who take a critical theory approach always deny that a social equilibrium is attainable, or any social arrangement will benefit everyone equally. > on the other hand, people in power take actions that benefit themselves the most and support theories that justify their actions. * from critical theories’ view, problems poor countries face today is not because of over population but from an unfair and harmful distribution of wealth. > WE CAN NOT TAKE FAMINE, AS PROOF OF OVERPOPULATION. * History shows that poor people have much to gain by reducing their fertility and much to lose by failing to do so. Ways of looking at…. Urban Life Functionalism * functionalists would view social problems in the city as resulting naturally from growth and specialisation. > more wealth in city means more robbery * Durkheim ’s term “common conscience” > means pre industrial communities were relatively small, rural settlements in which members shared the same experiences and developed similar values, norms, and identity. > basically small community, better bonding with people * Durkheim’s “mechanical solidarity” > lives of small towns are often interconnected in a tight, homogeneous social order. * On the other hand, the new urban society was based on interdependent, though not necessary intimate, relationships. > linked by “organic solidarity”, members of this new society were no longer self sufficient. Critical Theory * critical theorists always ask whose interests are served by the actions of the dominant groups in society and their ideologies. > attributing urban problems such as homelessness and poverty not to the effects of size, variety, and fluidity, but the workings of capitalism. * cities suffer because powerful people are ignoring these problems. * problem of cities is, ultimately, a problem of economic inequality - unequal distribution of urban wealth and poverty Symbolic interactionism * study how people experience city life on everyday basis. > Georg Simmel was one of the first one to take approach. * Simmel argues that cities are so inherently stimulating and quick-paced that to prevent sensory overload, inhabitants need to reduce their sensitivity to events and people around them. * Herbert Gans focuses on how the meaning of city life varies among groups and subcultures. Ways of looking at… the environment Functionalism * recognise that everyone is implicated in the pollution of the environment, some more than others perhaps. * functionalists are not surprised that modern people’s activities have contributed to the pollution of their natural surroundings and over harvesting of resources. * “cornucopia view of nature” > views nature as a storehouse of resources that exists only for the use of humans. * “growth ethic” > linked closely to materialism, celebrates the ability of technology itself has caused. * “individualism” > privileges personal goals and desires over collective interests, is the driving force behind the so-called tragedy of the commons. > this term is coined by Garrett Hardin in 1968. Meaning unwelcome results of actions by many self interested individuals. Critical Theory * emphasise that when environmental problems arise, they hurt the poor more often and more severely than they do the rich. > over 90% of disaster related death occur among poor populations of developing countries. * Sociological research shows that disasters results more often from the spread of capitalism and the marginalisation of the poor than from the effects of geophysical… Symbolic Interactionism * studies how the meaning and thought patterns learned in social interaction affect environmental problems, with a particular focus on how they influence people’s perception of these problems. * Why and how certain environmental issues enter the public consciousness? > Clay Schoenfeld, Robert Meier and Robert Griffin have looked at how environmental issues have become a problem in the public’s eye. * offers insights into how environmental polluters manipulate symbols to protect themselves from criticism. > like eco marks on products. Feminist Theory * questions the prevailing
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