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Chapter 16

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Margaret Gassanov;

Chapter 16 Introduction Winter Olympic games in Norway in 1994- Green Games The issue of environmental protection was placed front and center o Private cars banned from routes into Olympic area, cutlery were made form biodegradable potato starch, etc. Basic value conflict between those who favor unlimited economic expansion and technological solutions to human problems and those who embrace a new ecological view of the world, in which nature is accorded a central place Toward Environment sociology Sociologys interest in the environment is of recent vintage 1) reason for neglect- Early 20 century pioneers of sociology- environment meant something different from our physical surroundings Emile Durkheim + other founders downplayed role of biological and physical factors in influencing human affairs while elevating the importance of social facts such as norms, groups, and institutions 2) reason- sociologists own view of technology, natural resources and human progress Share the assumption of the general public that the world would see steady gains in material progress, fuelled by an apparently unlimited availability of natural resources (coal, water, lumber) Human-exceptionalism paradigm- worldview that features the ideals of steadily evolving social progress, increasing prosperity and material comfort, and class mobility for all segments of society, while ignoring the environmental costs of economic growth (pollution, health hazards, etc) Not much consideration given to the constraints that might be imposed on further economic expansion by declining resources, the exhaustion of nutrients in soil, etc. By early 1970s- sociologists began to study environmental issues Dunlap and Catton o a sociology on environmental issues- environmentally related phenomena, such as resource-management problems or beliefs of environmental movement o environmental sociology- physical environment as a factor that may influence or be influenced by social behavior o Suggests environment can function as a contextual, independent, or dependent variable Env sociology has propelled sociological inquiry into a number of important new areas e.g. studying public opposition to and mobilization against toxic wastes At same time, difficult to assemble a cohesive body of work built on strong theoretical foundations Social ecology- have come to acquire several very different meanings Widely shared recognition of the existence of a key value conflict in contemporary society between those who hold an environmentalist view of the world and others Environmental value conflict Values- most abstract level of culture- help us to sort out choices we make in life Disagreement between environmentalists and their opponents- core-long accepted notion that environment is something to be actively used and exploited Environmentalists support a different value orientation, one that advocates a more passive, less manipulative approach to nature Stephen Cotgrove o 2 conflicting paradigms (type of social lens through which we view the world) o Dominant paradigm 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 end Economic growth carries with it some values: the view that society is best organized on a large-scale, centralized basis, respect for authority, the ascendancy of law and order, and confidence in science and technology Conviction that humans have a right a even a responsibility to dominate nature Progress- increasing encroachment of civilization on jungles, deserts, frozen tundra and other wile geographic environments o Environmental paradigm Higher priority to the realization of nonmaterial values- e.g. social relationships Little confidence in science and technology to come up with a technological fix to solve the problems of material and energy shortages Questions the human right to domination Earths resources are limited and should be conserved Society should adopt small-scale, decentralized economic and political structures that are in harmony with nature Over world population growth primary factor environmental degradation Sustainable development: economic development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs Used in the report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development- aka Brundtland report Foresaw new form of economic growth, especially for Third World nations, that would be both environmentally aware and egalitarian, integrating objectives for social development with the demands of science Continued economic growth but not at expense of environment People argue it is not easy to balance economic growth and natural resource use with environmental protection Sustainable development requires an extraordinary degree of mutual cooperation and a deep commitment to reform- difficult to achieve Environmental attitudes, concerns and behaviors Dunlap and Van Lieres new environmental paradigm (NEP) scale- first tool to measure an environmental view of the worldo Developed a 12-item scale that measures extent of agreement with statements o General public moderately accepted the content of the merging environmental paradigm, whereas environmentalists strongly endorsed it Other techniques have been used to measure environmental concern o 1) ask how worried or upset people are about a series of environmental problems o 2) ask how they weigh trade-offs between e.g. environmental protection and jobs Grossman and Potter o Broadening-base hypothesis: environmental concern will eventually diffuse throughout all groups in the nation Buttel o Economic-contingency hypothesis: broadening of the social bases of environmental concern depends on prevailing economic conditions o When economic conditions worsen, those who are least well off will be the first to shift their focus from the environment to the economy Jones and Dunlap- level and social location of support for environmental protection have remained remarkably stable for nearly 10 years Income and occupational prestige were only weakly related to environmental concern education, youth, political liberalism and urban residence beset predictors of concern with environmental quality Greebaum- characterized social bases of environmental concern as complex and subtle
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