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Class 5 The natural environment and rural sustainability

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Title: Class 5 The natural environment and rural sustainability


1
Class 5The natural environment and rural
sustainability
  • Have looked at Who is in rural places
  • What is in rural places may be a bigger
    difference between urban and rural places
  • Different views on what its for, how it should
    be used, who should benefit, etc.
  • Have changed over time
  • Different groups have different views

2
But First FAQ on Course Projects
  • We dont care how you divide things up as long as
    you know.
  • 10-12p total length (double spaced) rather than
    per item.
  • You will have some class time to work on projects
  • Teams of 2 may have strays added to them.
  • Your task is to analyze the issue using the
    sociological perspectives identified in class,
    not to look for others sociological research on
    the topic.
  • Anything else???

3
Todays class
  • Natural capital in rural areas
  • Describe the capital concept
  • Important questions
  • What kinds of natural capital do rural places
    offer?
  • Who is it for?
  • Who decides how it should be used?
  • Critique the capital concept
  • Introduction to Env/Nat Res Sociology
  • How do the 3 theoretical perspectives speak to
    resource/env issues
  • Set the stage for more specific natural resource
    issues later in the semester

4
What is natural capital?
  • What is capital?
  • Flora and Flora
  • investment of resources to create new resources
    (an organizing principle of the book)
  • Investment of resources to create profit
  • Types of capital important to this class
  • Human, cultural, financial, social, natural
  • Natural capital store of natural assets
    (resources) that can be
  • Transformed into other types of assets
  • Used to create profit
  • May be an important part of rural development
  • Are sustainable (more on this in a minute)
  • But a paradox poverty in the midst of plenty
  • What are the figures
  • What are the causes?
  • What are the solutions?

5
Examples of Natural Capital?
6
Examples of natural Capital, I
  • Land (and products)
  • for commodity markets (e.g., agriculture or
    forestry)
  • Soil fertility and drainage
  • Location relative to markets
  • Moisture
  • Growing season
  • Open space

7
Examples of natural Capital, II
  • Recreation and tourism (some are the same)
  • Open space
  • Weather/climate
  • Things people want
  • Clean rivers and lakes
  • Hills/mountains
  • Public land for recreation
  • Wildlife resources
  • Scenery
  • Based on particular recreation activity
  • Location relative to markets

8
Examples of natural Capital, III
  • Ecosystem services
  • Fresh water
  • Fresh air
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Renewable and non-renewable resources for
    economic development
  • Food and fiber
  • Energy (fossil fuels, hydro, wind)
  • Who are these services for? How do we decide who
    should benefit from them?

9
A note on sustainability
  • The concept of capital implies sustainability
  • a stock of natural assets that yields a flow of
    goods and services into the future
  • Dont draw down the bank account, live on the
    principal.
  • Multidimensional (economy, society,
    environment)a motherhood and apple pie concept?
  • Equity concerns
  • Intergenerational (for future generations)
  • Intragenerational (distribution issues)
  • Are urban places sustainable without rural
    places?
  • How should we think about the flow of resources
    between urban and rural places?
  • Much of our resource use fails all three
    dimensions of sustainability.

10
  • Natural capital and the environment are not the
    same thing!why not?
  • Natural capital is tech dependenthow? (may need
    to combine with built capital)

11
Other questions of capital
  • How to make tradeoffs among alternatives (finite
    resource)
  • Who controls the resource?
  • What are the policy issueswhose interests does
    environmental policy favorand why?
  • Is there a market? Can one be created?

12
Examples of Natural Resource / Env Soc Topics for
the semester
  • Well being of resource dependent communities
  • Rural environments as resources for making a
    living
  • High amenity growth communities
  • Rural environments as a place to play
  • Rural env quality and env hazards
  • Rural environments as providing ecosystem
    benefits and the threats to this

13
Environmental Sociology as the study of
community (Bell)
  • Examines the relationship between individuals,
    society, and the physical environment as
    elements of community social structure
  • Enlarge the Sociological Imagination to include
    a role for the natural environment (more on this
    in a minute)

14
A critique of Mainstream sociology
  • Social facts cause other social facts
    (Durkheim)it is social forces that are important
    for explaining human behavior.
  • E.g., suicide as a social phenomenon cant be
    reduced to psychology (hmmmpeople who commit
    suicide must be depressed). What larger
    phenomena are causing more people to become
    depressed?
  • But then tends to ignore the role that the
    physical environment plays in human behavior

15
Individual behavior and social organization
causes environmental change
  • Common sense we know that our behaviors affect
    the environment.
  • Examples?
  • But happens at multiple levels
  • Individual actions
  • The way our society is structured

16
Environment can also cause social / human
behavior
  • Less intuitively obvious
  • Important elements of our societies are based at
    least in part on what natural resources are
    available examples???
  • Social organization forms
  • Culture / values
  • Individual behaviors

17
2 competing paradigms
  • Human Exemptionalist Paradigm we are exempt
    from the laws of nature)
  • Have special abilities that make us different
    than other critters. (such as??)
  • Social / economic factors drive society
  • Human technology can overcome limits
  • Most sociology implicitly takes this position

18
In contrast, the New Environmental Paradigm
  • Assumes changes in basic values (paradigm shift)
  • Suggests that
  • There are ultimate limits to human expansion in
  • Population
  • Resource consumption
  • Modern society is unsustainable face a crash
    sometime in the future (note Humphrey and Buttel
    prediction)
  • Science-driven scientists show the truth,
    which will spread throughout society
  • Ehrlich The Population Bomb

19
Natural resource sociologyand environmental
sociology
  • In common with environmental sociology how env
    conditions shape human condition
  • Patterns of social structure, interaction,
    culture
  • human / community well being (e.g.)
  • Closely tied to rural sociology
  • Problem solving focus
  • Well being of rural people as well as environment
  • Sustainability is a key term

20
How are Resource and Environmental sociology
different?
  • Political orientation
  • Env strong pro-environmental tradn
  • Resource fulfill human needs--nature as
    resource
  • Theoretical orientation
  • Env react against Soc
  • Resource within Rur Soc tradition
  • Scale
  • Env global focus
  • Resource local focus (community research)
  • Social context of each (sociological imagination)

21
Environmental SociologyThe Social Context
  • Increasing environmental awareness of the 1960s,
    1970s
  • Recognition of scarcity
  • Growth of environmental sciences
  • Key environmental accidents and their analysis
    as social problems
  • General age of political activism borrow
    techniques from other movements
  • Changing type of environmental problem
  • Global, mysterious, invisible, inequitable

22
Historical context of natural resource sociology
  • Emerged much earlier (1930s)
  • Agriculture and forestry a dominant use of the
    landscape
  • Different types of environmental problems
  • Local rather than global
  • Observable
  • Tied directly to productive capacity
  • No paradigm shift (not questioning fundamentals)
  • No recognition of ultimate scarcity
  • Faith in technology, human capacity

23
Our three theoretical perspectives, applied to
environment/resources
  • Functionalist
  • Conflict
  • Symbolic interactionist

24
A functionalist perspective on rural natural
capital
  • Starting question how does natural capital help
    keep the machine of society running smoothly?
  • Functions of rural areas
  • Provide raw material for progress
  • Are playgrounds for urbanites to refresh, renew
  • Are good places to get rid of waste
  • Abundant, cheap land
  • Low population densitynot as many people harmed
  • Rural areas as a colony of the nation.
  • For the overall good (smoothly functioning
    society), inequality / env problems not so
    important

25
A conflict perspective on rural natural capital
  • Starting question why are the people who grow,
    chop, or dig up the things our society needs so
    poorly off?
  • Rural areas
  • Are relatively powerless
  • Outside of the political loop decisions arent
    made there, politicians arent from there,
    under-represented in the machine of progress
  • Who makes the policy decisions?
  • Why are markets set up the way they are?
  • Understanding the conflict between competing uses
    of land is a central question
  • (cows or condos) who has the power to drive
    land use?

26
A symbolic interactionist perspective on natural
capital
  • Starting question what are the meanings that are
    assigned to things, how are they created, and how
    do they affect resource use
  • Symbols are key
  • The environment is a product of our language,
    culture, behaviors
  • What is real is the meaning we assign to a
    something, rather than its essence independent of
    human definition.
  • The physical attributes of the world matter less
    than our social agreements about it.
  • e.g., humans define what is a resource and what
    is an env problem through culture, social
    organization and technology

27
An example Timber harvest in Old Growth
National Forests
  • Symbols?
  • Pro Harvest
  • Maintain hard working forest families and
    communities
  • Dont lock up resources that are needed for
    econ dev
  • (Which is more importanttrees or people?)
  • Anti-Harvest
  • Old growth forests are rare, precious
  • Public land resources should benefit all
    Americans
  • Conflict through moral exclusion
  • Which side better communicates its message
  • Nature of the message itselfhow does it play
  • Access to media

28
Summary
  • Nature remains the main source of material wealth
    maintains the life-support functions of the
    ecosphere
  • Rural areas comparatively rich in natural wealth
  • Problems and issues with the natural capital
    concept
  • Not all of nature is natural capital
  • Tech
  • markets
  • How are benefits distributed and who should
    decide
  • Are our models of natural capital sustainable?
    By what dimensions?
  • Natural resource and environmental sociology as
    the study of the interaction between individuals,
    social structure, and the natural world
  • Multiple theoretical perspectives can be used to
    understand this interaction.

29
Next Class
  • Introduction to social science methods
  • How to conduct research
  • How to evaluate others statements
  • Reading Schaefer Ch.2
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