International workshop: Core Concepts in Environmental Sociology, Örebro, 23-25 September 2015
Arranged by the Environmental Sociology Section, Örebro University, Sweden in collaboration with Research Committee 24 (Environment and Society) of the International Sociological Association
What are the core concepts in environmental sociology that have contributed to scholarship and praxis, and what theoretical advances are needed? Considering that our conceptual understanding of nature-society relations plays a key role in the theoretical and empirical directions taken in sociology, as well as society’s influence on those relations themselves, the core concepts developed and advanced by environmental sociologists have tremendous influence. But the continued societal and scholarly relevance of our field, and indeed the vitality of environmental sociology itself, demands that we subject our core concepts and emerging conceptual developments to critical scrutiny.
Since the early 1970s, environmental sociology has successfully “brought nature back in” to sociology. Environmental sociology has indeed become one of the strongest sub-disciplines in sociology. But are the prevailing core concepts in our field adequate to describe, understand and explain contemporary and global environmental challenges? What is the need for conceptual innovation to better understand and cope with our most demanding environmental problems and risks today and in the future?
This workshop aims to go beyond the well-trodden debates--realism vs constructivism, ecological modernisation vs treadmill of production, European vs American environmental sociology--and instead look for other avenues for theoretical innovation. Treatments of these debates, moreover, tend to define a theoretical landscape of incommensurable paradigms. In particular, there may be a need for more explicit and systematic theoretical discussions within environmental sociology on a middle range level, without overlooking the need for development of core concepts to guide research.
Theoretical innovation in environmental sociology can also feedback to
a) theory development in sociology, which is essential because global environmental issues such as climate change render strong demarcations between society and nature wholly inadequate; and
b) environmental sciences and studies more broadly, because environmental sociology is so clearly situated within a trans-disciplinary research area.
Core concepts of interest could be of three kinds. First, they may originate from sociology and be commonly discussed and applied in environmental sociology, such as the nation-state, social practice, knowledge, social movements, modernization, individualization, justice, etc. Second, they may originate within environmental sociology, such as reflexive modernization, the double diversion, risk, or environmental flows. Thirdly, there are concepts from other fields increasingly discussed in environmental sociology, such as adaptation, precaution, resilience, sustainability, and anthropocene.
Crucial questions to address may include:
· What happens when the prefix ‘environment’ is placed before classical sociological concepts, or when sociological concepts are applied to environmental studies? Do adequate understandings and explanations of environmental problems require particular developments/applications of these concepts? Do environmental problems present particular challenges compared with other social problems?
· What new conceptual understandings of society have emerged from environmental studies and become increasingly important in sociology or in environmental sciences? How should they be further developed to reach their full potential?
· What new environmental concepts with other disciplinary origins have influenced environmental sociology? What are the implications (positive and negative) of importing “non-sociological” concepts into the tool-kit of environmental sociology?
About the workshop
The workshop is planned to include approximately 25 participants. Each participant should provide a written paper to be submitted one month before the workshop. Each contribution should thus do more than a literature review of the meaning and usage of a selected concept, but reflect on its conceptual development in order develop environmental sociology. The selection of participants will be made based on the abstracts. Each participant will also serve as discussant of a presented paper.
Abstracts (200-300 words) should be submitted no later than 15 January 2015. Send your abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org. The scientific committee will adjudicate and inform participants of the outcome by 15 February.
There is no conference fee and meals will be included.
Travel: Stockholm/Arlanda is the closest airport, located 200 kilometres from Örebro, and trains go regularly to Örebro.
There are several publication options being considered for papers presented in the workshop:
· An edited volume at an international publisher (e.g. Handbook)
· Special issue of the new journal Environmental Sociology
· Articles in general issues of the new journal Environmental Sociology
For more information, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Matthias Gross, Professor in Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and University of Jena, Germany
· Raymond Murphy, Professor in Sociology, Canada, University of Ottawa
· Magnus Boström, Professor in Sociology, Örebro University, Sweden
· Rolf Lidskog, Professor in Sociology, Örebro University, Sweden
· Debra Davidson, Professor in Sociology, University of Alberta, Canada
· Koichi Hasegewa, Professor in Sociology, Tohuku University, Japan
· Stewart Lockie, Professor in Sociology, James Cook University, Australia
· Ylva Uggla, Associate Professor in Sociology, Örebro University, Sweden
· Kris van Koppen, Associate Professor in Environmental Policy, Wageningen University, Netherlands