A critical examination of historical and contemporary sociological treatments of relationships between society and nature
Society and Nature
Towards a Green Social Theory
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In this wide-ranging effort to theorize about the relationships between society and nature, Peter Dickens attempts to reconstruct social theory in a way that enables it to speak to contemporary environmental issues. After reviewing existing sociological traditions, he draws on the early work of Karl Marx to suggest that processes and relations in the workplace are the main source of people's separation from nature. In addition, people's understanding of "nature" tends to mirror their experience of the social world. Redefining the work of Anthony Giddens in an ecological direction, Dickens analyzes developments in biological thinking that seem consistent with this approach. He considers the role of culture, and he critiques the contemporary "deep green" and "deep ecology" movements.
Focusing on the alienation of human begins from the natural world and the place of nature in their "deep mental structures," the author works in part from a Marxist perspective but draws a wide variety of social psychological, and biological theories into the discussion. Society and Nature not only addresses a central debate in contemporary social science regarding this interrelationship but also responds to the intellectual challenge presented by natural scientific concepts of environmental problems that oversimplify or ignore their political or social relational dimensions.
1. Science, Social Science, Politics and the Environment: Some Unhelpful Dichotomies
2. People, Nature and Social Theory
3. ‘Nature as Man’s Inorganic Body’: Marx’s Conceptual Framework
4. Arguments within Biology: From Neo-Darwinism to the Study of Organisms and Their Environments
5. ‘Nature as Alive’: Social Relations and Deep Mental Structures
6. Spreading ‘Man’s Inorganic Body’: Some Implications
7. Nature Reified: A Contemporary Case Study
8. Society and Nature: From Theory to Practice
Peter Dickens is Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies and Social Policy at the University of Sussex (UK) and the author of Urban Sociology: Society, Locality and Human Nature.