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.
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 .
Michael Goldman studies transnational, political, environmental, and development sociology at the University of Minnesota. Key works:
- Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. 2005. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press.
- How Does the World Bank Work?, Interview with Chicago Public Radio.
David Pellow studies environmental sociology, race, and transnational social movements at the University of California, Irvine. Key Works:
- Pellow, David N. and Robert J. Brulle. 2007. Poisoning the Planet: The Struggle for Environmental Justice. Contexts 6(1): 37-41.
- Pellow, David N. 2002. Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Andrew Szasz studies the sociology of nature, political sociology, and social movement theory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Key Works:
- Szasz, A. 1994. EcoPopulism: Toxic Waste and the Movement for Environmental Justice. Minneapolis: Univeristy of Minnesota Press.
- “The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Inverted Quarantine’: How people’s impulse to protect themselves from poisons can actually hurt the environment”, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 25, 2008.