Environment and Global Modernity
Publication Year: 2000
Subject: Environmental Sociology
This accomplished book argues that we can only make sense of environmental issues if we consider them as part of a more encompassing process of social transformation. It asks whether there is an emerging consensus between social scientists on the central issues in the debate on environmental change, and if concerns about the environment constitute a major prop to the process of globalization? The book provides a thorough discussion of the central themes in environmental sociology, identifying two traditions: ecological modernization theory and risk society theory.
- Front Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Introduction: Globalization, Modernity and the Environment
- Chapter 2: Classical Theory and Contemporary Environmental Sociology: Some Reflections on the Antecedents and Prospects for Reflexive Modernization Theories in the Study of Environment and Society
- Chapter 3: Ecological Modernization Theory and the Changing Discourse on Environment and Modernity
- Chapter 4: Modern Theories of Society and the Environment: The Risk Society
- Chapter 5: Social Constructions and Social Constrictions: Toward Analyzing the Social Construction of ‘the Naturalized’ as Well as ‘the Natural’
- Chapter 6: Globalization and Environment: Between Apocalypse-Blindness and Ecological Modernization
- Chapter 7: Environmental Social Theory for a Globalizing World Economy
- Chapter 8: The Ideology of Ecological Modernization in ‘Double-Risk’ Societies: A Case Study of Lithuanian Environmental Policy
- Chapter 9: Political Modernization Theory and Environmental Politics
- Chapter 10: Ecological Modernization and Post-Ecologist Politics
- Chapter 11: Self-Organizing Complexity, Conscious Purpose and ‘Sustainable Development’
SAGE Studies in International Sociology[Page ii]
Julia Evetts, University of Nottingham, UK
© International Sociological Association 2000
First published 2000
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licenses issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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ISBN 0 7619 6766 4
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Printed and bound in Great Britain by Athenaeum Press, Gateshead
This volume originated out of a conference on ‘Social Theory and the Environment’ organized under the auspices of the International Sociological Association (ISA) by the Research Group on ‘Environment and Society’. It was a so-called ‘regional conference’ organized in between two ISA-world congresses which have been aimed at presenting the whole spectrum of sociological activity throughout the world. This regional conference had a more specific focus, concentrating itself on theoretical or conceptual issues within the field of environmental social sciences.
There are several reasons for having both a conference and a book which give a certain primacy or priority to theoretical issues within the field of environmental social sciences. We will shortly discuss three reasons for doing so.
First, the relative lack of a common conceptual ground can be said to be one of the key factors negatively influencing the future development of the environmental social sciences. This lack of common ground is rooted of course in the disciplinary boundaries that exist also within the environmental social sciences. Leaving the economists aside, we still are left with a great variety of disciplines which all have modest or more substantive records in the environmental field: philosophers, political and administrative scientists, sociologists, (social) psychologists and historians. Although these disciplines may in principle or in theory share a methodological foundation, in practice they sometimes seem more eager to stress the differences that come along with the specific sets of societal issues they traditionally address. The fragmentation that results from these processes of distinction and competition among the different environmental social sciences seems to weaken the position of the social sciences vis-à-vis the natural sciences. The natural sciences are known for their still dominant position in the environmental field, both with respect to the research funds and facilities they have access to as well as regarding the definition of the environmental problem they put forward. While the call for a really interdisciplinary approach seems to be nowhere stronger than within the environmental field, we think the social sciences are in some respects not yet ready for the kind of collaboration with the natural sciences that policy makers are asking for. In our view, reflecting on the theoretical and conceptual issues that the environmental social sciences have in common could strengthen their position vis-à-vis the natural sciences and highlight the specific contributions that can and cannot be expected from social scientists when it comes to doing interdisciplinary research in the future.
Second, theoretical issues are not so well developed within the environmental social sciences because a significant share of the practitioners are simply not interested in the kind of research that is regarded as ‘abstract theoretical’ or ‘highly [Page viii]formal’ in character. In their endeavor to please policy makers with results that are ‘relevant’ in terms of being applicable in the short run as well as fitting smoothly within the existing policy frames, they keep conceptual exercises on a level that makes them easy to understand for non-scientists as well. Although there seems to exist some differences in this respect between the environmental social science tradition in the USA on the one hand and some European countries on the other, the overall conclusion – that the mainstream environmental social research can be said to be predominantly empirical in character – seems to be valid to a considerable degree. Though we consider empirical research as an indispensable ingredient of environmental social sciences, we think that one cannot and should not stick to the most recent tables, figures, and data even when the main objective is to do policy-relevant research. In view of the incredibly high pace of change that characterizes modern policies, one runs the risk of figures being outdated the very moment they are published. Moreover, the definition of policy-relevant research might, against this background of accelerating change, soon become adjusted in the direction of medium- and long-term research which can stand on its own and which is theoretically well informed.
Third and finally, theoretical research in the environmental social sciences has been frustrated or at least been handicapped by the fact that the founding fathers, the classical thinkers who delineated the field of social sciences so far, paid little attention to environmental problems at all. This is as much true for Marx, Kant and Hegel as it is for Weber, Hobbes, Durkheim, Simmel and Mead. When leading contemporaries argue that the legacy of the classics needs to be rethought and taken away from its 19th century footing, they should have the immediate consent of environmental social scientists too. When this challenge of reinventing and redefining the social science classical tradition is taken up in a serious way, environmental issues inevitably belong to the core themes to be discussed. We hope that this volume will contribute to strengthening the disciplinary identity of environmental sociology as well as to the greening of sociology.
This book would not exist if Neil Guppy, as editor of the Sage Studies in International Sociology, had not asked us to start this project. The book would not be as attractive as it is without the efforts made by Corry Rothuizen. We also would like to thank the other members of the organizing board, Riley Dunlap and Peter Dickens, and especially Guus Gijswijt from SISWO in the Netherlands because of his decisive role in organizing the Woudschoten conference from which this book resulted.Wageningen/Madison, April 1999.GertSpaargarenArthur P.J.MolFrederick H.Buttel
BSE Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) CEE Central and Eastern Europe CFCs Chloro Fluoro Carbons ECE Economic Commission for Europe EMAS Environmental Management and Audit Scheme EU European Union FOEI Friends Of the Earth International G7 Group of Seven (richer countries of the world) GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GEC Global Environmental Change GEF Global Environmental Facility GNP/GDP Gross National/Domestic Product GPP Greatest Permissible Pollution HCRs High Consequence Risks HEP Human Exemptionalist Paradigm HIID Harvard Institute of International Development IMF International Monetary Fund IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ISO International Standard Organization LEIF Lithuanian Environmental Investment Fund MEMO MEns en Milieu-vriendelijk Ondernemen (Man and environmental friendly enterprises) MNE Multi National Enterprises NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement NEP New Ecological Paradigm NEPP (Dutch) National Environmental Policy Plan NGO Non-Governmental Organization NICs New Industrializing Countries NIDL New International Division of Labor NIMBY Not In My BackYard OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development PESTO Public Participation and Environmental Science and Technology Policy Options PHARE Pologne/Hongrie: Assistance à la Restruction des Economies (EU aid programme for former CEE countries) PPP Pollution Prevention Pays/Polluter Pays Principle PRA Probabilistic Risk Assessment RAP Rational Actor Paradigm [Page x]SMCS Socio-Material-Collective-Systems SSK Sociology of Scientific Knowledge TPP Temporarily Permissible Pollution TRI Toxic Release Inventory UN United Nations UNCED United Nation Commission on Environment and Development USAID United States Agency for International Development WCED World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland-commission) WHO World Health Organization WTO World Trade Organization WWF World Wide Fund for Nature
List of Contributors[Page xi]
Ingolfur Blühdorn teaches politics and social theory in the Department of European Studies at the University of Bath, UK. He obtained his PhD from the University of Keele. In recent years his research has focused on the relationship between ecological issues and contemporary social theory.
Frederick H. Buttel is Professor of Rural Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is currently the President of the Environment and Society Research Committee (RC 24) of the International Sociological Association and Co-Editor of Society and Natural Resources.
William R. Freudenburg is a Professor of Rural Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who has written well over 100 articles and book chapters on society-environment relationships. His books include Nuclear Power and the Public: are there critical masses? (with Eugene Rosa) and Oil in Troubled Waters: perceptions, politics, and the battle over offshore oil drilling (with Bob Gramling).
Ernest Garcia is Professor of Environmental Sociology and Social Change at the University of Valencia, Spain. He has carried out research on regional sustainable development, social conflict and the environment, and household consumption and sustainability.
Pieter Leroy is Professor of Political Sciences of the Environment and chair of the Department of Environmental Policy Sciences at Nijmegen University, the Netherlands. He chairs the four year education program on Social and Political Sciences of the Environment. His research and publications focus on new developments and arrangements in environmental politics and policies.
Arthur P.J. Mol is an environmental sociologist at Wageningen University. He has published widely in the field of environmental sociology and environmental policy. He is the central coordinator of several major research projects on environmental transformations in Europe and in South-east and East Asia. He is connected to the new Journal for Environmental Policy and Planning and also serves as co-secretary for the ISA Research Group on Environment and Society.
Professor Michael Redclift is a member of the Department of Geography, King's College, University of London, where he is leader of the Environment research group. Formerly he was Professor of International Environmental Policy [Page xii]at Keele University, and Professor of Environmental Sociology, Wye College, University of London. He was the first Director of the ESRC's Global Environmental Change research programme (1990–1995).
Leonardas Rinkevicius is Associate Professor in environmental sociology and policy at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania. He is a member of the board of the Environment and Society Research Committee (RC 24) of the International Sociological Association, and he is also in the action planning committee of the International Greening of Industry Network.
Eugene A. Rosa is Professor and Chair of Sociology and the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of Natural Resource and Environmental Policy at Washington State University. He has published widely in the fields of environmental sociology, risk, and environmental policy. Among his recent published works is the co-authored Risk, Uncertainty, and Rational Action (Earthscan).
Gert Spaargaren is an environmental sociologist working at Wageningen University. He has published several articles on ecological modernization theory and environmental sociology. His dissertation is titled ‘The ecological modernization of production and consumption’. He serves as co-secretary for the ISA Research Group on Environment and Society.
Jan van Tatenhove is lecturer in Political Sciences of the Environment at the Department of Environmental Policy Sciences at Nijmegen University, the Netherlands. His research focuses on the institutionalization of environmental policy and new policy arrangements in environmental politics and physical planning.