chapter  1
15 Pages

Introduction: Individuals, Societies, and Pragmatic Environmentalism

ByMichael Carolan

The pragmatic value of many environmental books is limited by the problem of individualism. One explanation for why books with an environmental focus tend to concentrate on problems, and superficially on what ought to be done to change things, is the nature of how expertise has historically been attached to the subject. They are called environmental problems, after all. Sociology has a long history of sidestepping environmental variables, phenomena historically understood as under the purview of the natural sciences. It is important to remember that early social thought was developed, at least in part, as a reaction to social Darwinism, which sought to explain much of social life by way of biology. The problem with environmental issues, however, is that they make a terrible mess of this historically rooted division of labor between the "social" and the "natural" sciences. The chapter also presents some concepts discussed in this book. The book focuses on issues related to certain environmental phenomena.