The Sociologists' Take on the Environment

A common mantra when it comes to studying the environment is that only a disinterested, dispassionate natural scientist can untangle the natural from the social and thus do things like calculate carbon emissions or predict climate change. But to many sociologists this is precisely the wrong approach. The sociological approach starts from the assumption that the natural and the social aren’t separate and distinct, but in fact mutually created and reproduced. It’s an insight that has profound implications for how all of us-specialists and citizens alike-understand changes in our ecosystems and what we choose to do (or not) about them.

online resources

More information on sociologists cited in this article:

Sherry Cable studies environmental sociology at Pennsylvania State University. Key Work: Sherry Cable and Michael Benson. 2005. “Acting locally: Environmental injustice and the emergence of grassroots environmental organizations.” Social Problems. 40(4): 464-477 [1993].

Michael Goldman studies transnational, political, environmental, and development sociology at the University of Minnesota. Key works:

David Pellow studies environmental sociology, race, and transnational social movements at the University of California, Irvine. Key Works:

Andrew Szasz studies the sociology of nature, political sociology, and social movement theory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Key Works:

Comments 1

Paul Gellert

April 8, 2013

Sherry Cable does not study sociology at Penn State any more. For many years already, she has been a professor of sociology at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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