Special Issue "Sustainability through the Lens of Environmental Sociology"
A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2016)
Dr. Md Saidul Islam
Our planet is undergoing radical environmental and social changes. Sustainability has now been put into question by, for example, our consumption patterns, loss of biodiversity, depletion of resources, and exploitative power relations. With apparent ecological and social limits to globalization and development, current levels of consumption are known to be unsustainable, inequitable, and inaccessible to the majority of humans. Understanding and achieving sustainability is a crucial matter at a time when our planet is in peril—environmentally, economically, socially, and politically. Since its official inception in the 1970s, environmental sociology has provided a powerful lens to understanding the challenges, possibilities, and modes of sustainability.
This Special Issue of Sustainability will provide an environmental sociology approach to understanding and achieving the widely used notion of “Sustainability.” The Special Issue will focus on, among other topics, the inherent discursive formations of environmental sociology, conceptual tools and paradoxes, competing theories and practices, and their complex implications on our society at large. We invite papers that will specifically focus on how Sustainable Development has been understood through different theoretical lenses in environmental sociology, such as ecological modernization, policy/reformist sustainable development, and critical structural approaches (such as the treadmill of production, ecological Marxism, metabolic rift theory, etc.). Also, review papers and original manuscripts may draw on how sustainable development has been practiced in, or by, various stakeholders, such as states, corporations, and local communities, for various ends, through the use of specific case studies, showing, for example, the discursive shifts, dynamic formations, and diverse contours of sustainable development.
The range of relevant topics includes:
- Environmental sociology as a field of inquiry for sustainability Historical context of sustainable development in environmental sociology
- Nature-society relationship in environmental sociology
- Theories/approaches to sustainability discourse in environmental sociology
- Environmentalism/environmental movements for sustainability
- Empirical cases (such as climate change, biodiversity, food, certification, etc.) through the lens of environmental sociology
Dr. Md Saidul Islam
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- Brulle, Robert J. and J. Craig Jenkins. 2006. "Spinning Our Way to Sustainability?" Organization and Environment 19:82-87.
- Estes, R. J. “Toward Sustainable Development: From Theory to Praxis.” Available online at: http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/restes/Estes%20Papers/Toward%20Sustainable%20Development_1993.pdf
- Gould, K.A. and Tammy L. Lewis. 2009. “The paradoxes of sustainable development” in Gould, K.A. and Tammy L. Lewis (eds), pp. 269-289. Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Lele, S. M. 2004. “Sustainable Development: A Critical Review” in Conca, K. and G. D. Debalko (eds). Pp. 252-264. Green Planet Blues: Environemntal Politics from Stockholm to Johannesburg. Boulder: Westview Press.
- Catton, William and Riley Dunlap. 1980. A New Ecological Paradigm for a Post-Exuberant Sociology American Behavioral Scientist 24 15-47
- Dunlap, Riley 1980 Paradigmatic Change in Social Science: From Human Exemptionalism to an Ecological Paradigm American Behavioral Scientist 24 5-14
- Cohen, Maurie. 1997. "Risk Society and Ecological Modernisation." Futures 29:105-119.
- Mol, Arthur. 1996. "Ecological Modernisation and Institutional Reflexivity: Environmental Reform in the Late Modern Age." Environmental Politics 5:302-323.
- Mol, Arthur and David Sonnenfeld. 2000. "Ecological Modernization: An Introduction." Environmental Politics 9:3-14.
- Alexander, Jeffery. 1996. "Reflexive Modernization: Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order." Theory, Culture and Society 13:133-138.
- Bell, Michael Mayerfeld. 2004. An Invitation to Environmental Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press
- Brand, Karl-Werner. 1997. "Environmental Consciousness and Behavior: The Greening of Lifestyles." Pp. 204-217 in International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, edited by M. Redcliff and G. Woodgate. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Dunlap, Riley and Robert Jones. 2002. "Environmental Concern: Conceptual and Measurement Issues." Pp. 482-524 in Handbook of Environmental Sociology, edited by R. Dunlap and W. Michelson. CT: Greenwood Press.
- Schahn, Joachim and Erwin Holzer. 1900. "Studies of Individual Environmental Concern: The Role of Knowledge, Gender and Background Variables." Environment and Behavior 22:767-786.
- Kalof, Linda, Thomas Dietz and Gregory Guagnano. 2002. "Race, Gender and Environmentalism: The Atypical Values and Beliefs of White Men." Race, Class, Gender 9:1-19.
- Mertig, Angela and Riley Dunlap. 2001. "Environmentalism, New Social Movements, and the New Class: A Cross-National Investigation." Rural Sociology 66:113-136.
- Hunter, Lori and Joan Brehm. 2004. "Qualitative Insight into Public Knowledge of, and Concern with, Biodiversity." Human Ecology Review 11:13-26.
- Environmental Sociology
- Ecological modernization
- Treadmill of production
- Sustainable food
- Green movement
- New Ecological Paradigm
- Environmental Governmentality
The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.
Type of Paper: Article
Title: Hybrid Arrangements for Sustainable Governance: The Case of the Ecological Modernization of Low-Carbon Initiatives in the US
Author: Dana R. Fisher and Anya M. Galli
Affiliation: Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
Abstract: How are policy mechanisms that promote sustainability implemented and sustained? This paper builds on the theory of Ecological Modernization to explore the emergence of hybrid governance arrangements during the local implementation of federal energy efficiency programs in US cities. We being by reviewing the notions of ecological modernization and hybrid governance, discussing how they are related to environmental policy implementation. Next, we present the ways that data were collected to assess a sub-national low-carbon initiative in the US. This paper concludes by discussing how these specific programs, which were established via partnerships between government, business, and civil society actors, have cultivated hybrid arrangements to sustain their projects after the federal support ends. Our findings show that hybrid governance plays an important role in both the establishment and implementation of environmental policies that promote sustainability in the US.
Type of Paper: Article
Author: Ortwin Renn
Title: Coping with Systemic Environmental Risks: Contributions of Environmental Sociology for Improved Resilience
Abstract: Current societies are challenged by a number of pressing global systemic risks arising from global environmental transfomations, in particular climate change. Responding adequately to global systemic risks is a challenge for our world society where national interests and different cultures conflict with efficient responses. Systemic risks can be characterized by four major properties: they are (1) global in nature, (2) highly interconnected and intertwined leading to complex causal structures, (3) non-linear in the cause-effect relationships and (4) stochastic in their effect structure. Governance of systemic risks require strategies that address the complexity, scientific uncertainty and socio-political ambiguity of its underlying relationships. However, national as well as international attempts to address systemic risks have decoupled risk anticipation from sustainable and resilient risk management processes and structures. This is the place where insights from environmental sociology are required. The modernization process facilitates the emergence of plural knowledge and value claims that leads to the request of multiple stakeholders to be part of the risk management process. This often includes a power-imbalance among stakeholders in decision making and communicative processes. Public participation has proven to be an important part and often key driver for successful and legitimate risk governance for advancing environmental policies. The various actors of society and the public at large can be important in providing local knowledge and experiences, informing decision making, especially with regard to uncertainty and ambiguity, and securing legitimacy for managing risk. In the end risk management and communication needs to address the four characteristics of systemic risks and develop the appropriate instruments to deal with global, interconnected, stochastic and non-linear risks.
Type of Paper: Article
Title: The Anthropocenic Turn: Theorizing Sustainability in a Postnatural Age
Author: Manuel Arias-Maldonado
Affiliation: University of Málaga, Spain
Abstract: So long as sustainability represents the attempt to pacify the relation between societies and their natural environments, the concept must remain attentive to any findings about the character of such relation. In this regard, the rise of the Anthropocene cannot be ignored by environmental sociologists if a realistic understanding of sustainability is to be produced. The Anthropocene is a scientific notion, grounded on geology and Earth-system science, that plausibly suggests that human beings have colonized nature in a degree that has irreversibly altered the functioning of planetary systems. As a result, social and natural systems have become 'coupled'. This paper tries to elucidate the consequences that an 'Anthropocenic turn' would have for sustainability studies. To such end, it will explore the related notions of hybridity and relational agency as key aspects of a renewed view of nature. Correspondingly, it argues that cultivated capital (rather than natural or man-made) must be the most important unit for measuring sustainability and devising sustainable policies in a postnatural age. Some political implications of this new theoretical framework are also considered.
Type of Paper: Article
Title: Managing Nature—Business as Usual: Incorporating Sustainable Development into Corporate Operational Management
Author: Mark Brown
Affiliation: BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway
Abstract: This article contributes to knowledge of how one category of business organization: very large, British-based, natural resource extraction corporations, has begun to manage its operations for sustainability. The object of study is a large volume of texts that make representations of the managing-for-sustainability practices of these business corporations. The macro-level textual analysis identifies patterns in the wording of these representations of practice. Hajer’s understanding of discourse, in which ideas are contextualized within social processes of practice, provides the theoretical approach to gain an insight into how they understand and practice sustainability. Through this large-scale analysis, illustrated in the article with specific textual examples, one can see that these natural resource, ‘green’ MNCs are developing a vocabulary and a ‘grammar’ which enables them to manage natural spaces in the same way that they are able to manage their own far-flung business operations. They make simplified representations of the much more complex biophysical landscapes in which their operations are sited. These models of nature can then be incorporated into the corporation’s operational management processes; the journey towards sustainability delivers, in practice, the management of nature as business continues as usual.
Type of paper: Article
Title: Human-Nature for Climate (Change) Action: Role of Biophilia and Urban Ecosystems (Services) in Promoting Behavioral Change
Author: Helen Santiago Fink
Abstract: The global climate change agenda proceeds at an incremental pace while the Earth is approaching critical tipping points in its development trajectory. Climate action at this critical juncture needs to be greatly accelerated and rooted in the fundamentals of the problem - the Anthropocene’s’ deleterious impact on the natural environment.
This research highlights the potential to accelerate the trajectory of constructive climate action through increasing policy attention and resource commitment to behavioral change, ecosystem services and sub-national (city) engagement as strategic areas of intervention (by international and national actors). Directed focus to these areas can reinforce (national) climate commitments to generate cost effective and sustained practices at the micro and macro levels to reduce GHG levels and enhance the resiliency of population groups while contributing to sustainability and improved quality of life.
Cities are well positioned to accelerate the pace of tangible climate action by creating a balanced urban environments supported by rich ecosystems and bolstered by green and low-carbon infrastructures that generate both mitigation and adaptation solutions as well as valuable co-benefits for socio-economic betterment towards sustainable lifestyles. Greener cities can strengthen the inherent human-nature relationship (or biophilia) and nudge individuals and societies towards environmental stewardship and urban environments towards carbon neutrality.
This research paper puts forth the potential collective impact of mobilizing urban populations towards increased climate action through awakening biophilia, bolstering urban ecosystems and planning green infrastructure into the built environment. Literature review complemented by primary research on individuals’ perception of the urban ecosystems-climate change link, a review of associated country commitments to COP21 and a comparison of urban metrics that support quality of life and climate action is presented. Policy and research recommendations are proposed for further action.
Keywords: climate change; behavioral change; biophilia; urban ecosystems; green infrastructure; sustainability; lifestyle