Environmental Sociology 3 (5/5): Macrotheories: The Origins of the Human-Environmental World





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Uploaded on Sep 21, 2011

[The outline of the five split parts of this session is below the introduction]

WHO: I am Dr. Mark D. Whitaker (Ph.D., Sociology; University of Wisconsin-Madison), from a university known for its concentration of environmental sociologists. My interests are environmental sociology, comparative history, the organizational causes of environmental degradation, and sustainability strategies.

Outline of this Session

(1/5) General overview of macrotheories introduced in this session #3 (this introduction discusses some people covered in the next session, #4 as well)

(2/5) Separating out human-environmental macrotheories into local issues and delocalized issues; first local issues then delocalized issues (the latter meaning, being above or outside of a particular region, and/or being networked across multiple regions in organizational scale and yet still with a human-environmental interaction of its own like the local level is human-environmentally interactive in a different way);

- first, local issues and terms employed to describe this human-environmental interaction: [1] biomes; [2] ecoregions; [3] bioregions; [4] Nabhan's view of ourselves as "homo ecologous" (as a multiregional species, with regional specificity historically developing worldwide—with humans historically a species that is an interactive nexus of environmental, genetic, culture, and foodways specific places that 'get into' our genetics over time and make us more fit for a particular region and our food choices/availability in it; thus we are a place-based species genetically instead of an abstract humanity that is presumed to be without place)

- next, delocalized issues started: [1] Carniero's environmental contexts of early state formation and how the environmental context combined with human conflict is primarily causing where early states formed in the world and where they were avoided.

(3/5) continuing delocalized human-environmental issues: [2] Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, summarized via its charts; different human developmental stratification seems influenced by different material access in different regions historically yielding uneven scales of larger organizational structures in humanity worldwide in states/urbanization (seen as agricultural and animal husbandry development as his data) in the deep human past (though remember Carniero disagrees with such a singular materialist explanation of early stratification as the only issue of the origin of states and social stratification; so mix them together to understand our world better)

(4/5) continuing delocalized human-environmental issues: [3] Whitaker's Raw Materials and the Division of Labor: Urbanization has environmental material conditional influences as well depending on the materials chosen; urbanization is thus influenced by particular materials in a predictable manner; the case studies explore early industrialization in Europe and the United States in textile cities (comparing cotton, wool, and worsted in industrializing urbanization); what is found is that different materials in early industrialization innately had predictable different urban scales, morphologies, stratification, cultures around industrial work, different penchants for different styles of social movements, different levels of proletarianization, and different levels of applications of mechanized technology--all depending on the materials chosen by people for textiles that build into different socio-technological penchants that themselves build up into urbanization or decentralization penchants; thus there is nothing abstract about commodities or material influences or an abstract economics that ignores material specifics--instead you are required to know how the specifics of the materials matters in the social relationships, unlike Marxism or Smithianism, because there are innately different levels of scale of application of technology, scale, and political power based on different materials' common penchants (described as technological amenability, unsubstitutability, and geographic amenability); in addition, a "supply versus demand" conflict model for commodities is explored very different from mystifications of "supply equals demand"

(5/5) continuing delocalized human-environmental issues; Whitaker, continued


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