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Chapter 2

SOC103H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake And Tsunami, Garrett Hardin, Herbert J. Gans

Course Code
Lorne Tepperman

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The idea of "over-populated"
Food increases additively, population increases exponentially
Positive checks (increase death rate): war, famine, pestilence, and disease
Preventive checks (limit birth rate) [encouraged]: abortion, infanticide,
sexual abstinence, delayed marriage, and contraceptives
'checks' (limits) population growth in line with the food supply
Doubts: unable to measure the 'carrying capacity' & technological improvements
Data (Brown): irrigated land per thousand people declined in recent
years; >1billion hungry
Redistribute wealth is ineffective
Thomas Malthus - founder of demography, populations issues including
environmental impact, food supply, and health
Critical Theory's Approach to Malthus
People with power only take actions for themselves
Critical theory denies that social equilibrium is attainable, denies that social
arrangement is beneficial
e.g. famines in Africa: improper land use, civil wars, tariff, etc. (not
Therefore, denies 'overpopulation' and reason it as unfair and harmful distribution of
Farmers: have more children to do farm work
People in urban industrial societies: have less children (burden if attending
school), plus problem of shortage of capital for industrialization
Conclusion: overpopulation could be an influencing factor but not a dominate
Strategy: zero population growth (ZPG)
Historical support: famine has never been a significant positive check result from
overpopulation (Nor plagues or epidemics), they are results of uneven economic
Ways of looking at population
Ways of looking at urban life
(e.g. wealthy theft, dense population housing)
Problems in the city are resulting naturally from growth and specialization
(e.g. size, variety, and fluidity), rapid growth anomia (functional theory)
Tendencies of the city promote social disorganization, and weak social controls.
Chapter 2 Material Settings
January 29, 2014
12:29 PM
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mechanical solidarity - interconnected in a tight, homogeneous social order
Rural life: common conscience - some experiences and similar values, norms and
Urban-industrial society: organic solidarity - interdependent, not intimate, not self-
Goal: find new equilibrium (e.g. city) with a higher level of functioning.
Critical Theory
Problems in city are resulting from capitalism, interests of dominate groups and their
ideology, ultimately economic inequality.
Symbolic Interactionism
Georg Simmel: In city, people need to reduce their sensitivity to events and
people around them.
(e.g. ethnic urban community, young gangs, corporate elites)
Herbert Gans: how the meaning of city life varies among groups and subcultures
(group of people have their own distinctive values, beliefs, norms, style of dress,
and behaviour.)
People's everyday experiences
Ways of looking at the environment
Cornucopia view of nature: nature is storehouse of resources that exists only for
the use of humans
Growth ethic (linked with materialism): technologies solve everything
(Garrett Hardin) 'tragedy of the commons': unwelcome result of actions by
many self-interested individuals act independently
Individualism: privileges personal goals and desires over collective interests
Everyone is implicated in the pollution of the environment,
Critical Theory
>90% disaster-related death occur among the poor in developing countries
75% disaster-related economic damage in developed countries
e.g. drought in Pakistan thousands of deaths
drought in Canada farm bankruptcies, no death
25% world population living in natural disaster in less-developed counties
Solution: redistribution of wealth and power to provide access to
resources, rather than use technologies to control nature (e.g. 2004 South
Asian tsunami)
Capitalism and marginalization of poor results more in disasters than geophysical
Environmental problems hurt poor more often and more severely
Symbolic Interactionism
How the meanings and thought patterns learned in social interaction affect
environmental problems, particularly, how they influence people's perception
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