In this lecture, Dr. Riley Dunlap presents the history and early development of the environmental sociology. He defines environmental sociology as the broad study of society–environment interactions, and notes that historically that study was focused on modern industrialized societies. He highlights the early focus of environmental sociology on the social construction of environmental problems, and notes that in the 1970s there were several theoretical schools of thought about human relate to the natural environment. He contrasts the dominant western worldview with the human exemptionalist and new ecological paradigms, and links these paradigms to underlying sociological theories about human motivation and decision making. He concludes by noting that environmental sociology is both expanding and being complemented by related frameworks that highlight the interdisciplinary nature of human-environment interactions.
Dunlap, R.E. (2015). Environmental sociology. In J.D. Wright (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences 2nd Ed. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.
Riley Dunlap is Regents Professor and Laurence L. and Georgia Ina Dresser Professor in the Department of Sociology at Oklahoma State University. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association, Dunlap is also Past-President of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Environment and Society. He co-authored a series of early articles that helped codify environmental sociology as a distinct area, and continues to contribute to theoretical and conceptual debates in the area. Dunlap’s empirical work has long focused on environmental attitudes, beliefs and values—including cross-national comparisons—and he serves as Gallup Scholar for the Environment with the Gallup Organization. His most recent work has emphasized political polarization over climate change and organized climate change denial. He is Co-Investigator on an NSF EPSCoR Project entitled “Enhancing the Resilience of Socio-Ecological Systems to Climate Variability in Oklahoma.”