Environmental Sociology 

By Dr. Satyapriya Rout   |   University of Hyderabad
Learners enrolled: 1111
Course Description:

The course "Environmental Sociology" aims to provide the students with a comprehensive conceptual, theoretical and empirical background to the interaction between social and natural world, by way of highlighting issues related to environment, sustainable development and resource governance. Human societies throughout history have shared an intrinsic relation with nature. Environmental factors always shape social phenomena, and human societies inevitably alter natural environment. In this broader context, this course aims to explore the relationship between human society and the larger natural environment, of which it is a part of. It is now acknowledged that environmental issues are inevitably social issues, and these can be understood by an examination of their social roots. The course, therefore, attempts to understand the social roots of ecological problems, and to unveil the social responses to the environmental problems. Besides, it examines the emergence of the concept of sustainable development, environmental conflicts and movements, and various approaches to resource use and varied responses to environmental risks. While attempting to understand the relationship between social world and natural world, it explores important theoretical perspectives like Ecological Modernisation, Treadmill of Production, Risk Society Thesis and Eco-philosophies. The course gives due importance to environmental issues, concerns and debates that have emerged in India in recent years, and discusses the environmental history and the rise of environmentalism in India.

Course Objective

The course aims to provide the students with a sound conceptual, theoretical and empirical background to the issues of environment, sustainable development and resource management; and prepare them for further research in the area.

Course Learning Outcomes

After completion of the course, the students will be able to: 

  1. Explain the main concepts, theories, debates and empirical practices on the interaction between environment and society.
  2. Differentiate between different paradigms and discourses on nature and its use by society
  3. Describe current theoretical and empirical debate on environmental movements and sustainable resource management practices
  4. Evaluate policies and practices concerning environmental governance and sustainable development.
  5. Appropriately apply different theories and methodologies of research in different contexts relevant to environment and sustainable development
Course Status : Ongoing
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 15 weeks
Start Date : 09 Aug 2021
End Date : 14 Nov 2021
Exam Date : 21 Nov 2021 IST
Enrollment Ends : 15 Sep 2021
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 4
Level : Postgraduate

Course layout

Week 1: 
  1. Introductory module to Environmental Sociology Course; 
  2. Emergence of Environmental Sociology I – Sociology’s Response to Environmental Issues; 
  3. Emergence of Environmental Sociology II – Subject Matter and Recent Trends in Environmental Sociology
Week 2: 
  1. An Ecological Critique of Sociology
  2. Paradigms and Perspectives in Environmental Sociology
  3. New Directions in Environmental Sociology
Week 3: 
  1. Environment in Classical Sociological Tradition
  2. Environmetnal Sociology in India
Week 4: 
  1. Introduction to Theoretical Approaches in Environmental Sociology
  2. Realism vs. Constructivism Debate
  3. The Environmental Discourse
Week 5:
  1. Eco-Philosophies: Deep, Social and Feminist 
  2. Treadmill of Production 
  3. Ecological Modernisation Theory
Week 6:
  1. Ecological Modernisation as Social Theory
  2. The Risk Society Thesis
  3. Living and Coping with World Risk Society
Week 7:
  1. Environmentalism Around the World: Past and Present
  2. Multiple Environmentalisms: Material and Post-material concerns
Week 8:
  1. Contemporary Environmental Movements
  2. Environmental Movements in Global and Local Perspectives 
Week 9:
  1. New Social Movements and the Environmental Concerns
  2. Political Ecology and Environmental Movements 
Week 10:
  1. Environmentalism and Environmental Movement in India;
  2. Ideological Trends in Indian Environmentalism 
Week 11:
  1. Environmental History: Concept, Themes and Issues
  2. Environmental History of India
Week 12:
  1. Resource, Property and Resource Governance Regimes
  2. Governing Common Pool Resources
  3. Collective Action for Governing the Commons: Theoretical Approaches 
Week 13:
  1. Governing Forests as Common Property
  2. Governing Water as Common Property
  3. Common Property Regimes in India
Week 14:
  1. The Concept of Sustainability
  2. Environment and Sustainable Development
  3. Environmental Democracy and Climate Change
Week 15:
  1. Environmental Justice; 
  2. Gender and Environmental Debate - I; 
  3. Gender and Environmental Debate – II (Feminist Political Ecology)
Summary and Conclusion of the Course 

Books and references

Few Relevant Textbooks on Environmental Sociology

1. Bell, Michael Mayerfeld. 2004. An Invitation to Environmental Sociology. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press.

2. Gould, Kenneth Alan and Tammy L Lewis. 2009.
Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press. 

3. Dunlap, R.; Frederick H. Buttel, Peter Dickens and August Gijswijt. (Ed.) 2002.
Sociological Theory and the Environment: Classical Foundations, Contemporary Insights. Boston: Rowman& Littlefield.

4. Hanningan, John. 1996.
Environmental Sociology. Oxan: Routledge.

5. Hanningan, John. 2006.
Environmental Sociology: A Social Constructionist Perspective. Oxan: Routledge.

6. Barry, John. 1999.
Environment and Social Theory. Oxan: Routledge.

Instructor bio

Dr. Satyapriya Rout

University of Hyderabad


Dr. Satyapriya Rout is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad (UoH), Hyderabad, where he is teaching since August 2006. Prior to joining UoH, he worked as Lecturer in Sociology at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi from February 2004 to August 2006. At UoH, he teaches courses like Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Development, and Contemporary Development Issues.

Dr. Rout's areas of research interest broadly include environment and natural resource governance, environmental movements, decentralised governance and development. While inquiring into the question of community’s engagement with governance of natural resources, his research focuses upon forest and water.

Dr. Rout was awarded Sir Ratan Tata Visiting Fellowship for his post-doctoral research at Asia Research Centre, London School of Economics & Political Science, London, UK during October 2012 - June 2013. He was also awarded UKIERI visiting fellowship at LSE, London, UK (2015 - 16); SSPS-IASH visiting fellowship at University of Edinburgh, UK (2014); ICSSR-NRCT Indo-Thai visiting fellowship (2011); Legal Pluralism visiting fellowship at University of Neuchatel, Switzerland (2009).

His most recent publications are:

  • [2019] Social Inequality and Access to Water: Equity, Sustainability and Participation in Rhetorics of Drinking Water Reforms in India. New Delhi: Serials Publication.
  • [2018] 'Sustaining South-east Asia's Forests: Community, Institution and Forest Governance in Thailand'. Millennial Asia (Sage Publications). 9 (2): 140 - 161.
  • [2018] 'Gendered participation in community forest governance in India', Contemporary Social Science: Journal of Academy of Social Sciences, UK  (Taylor & Francis, UK). 13 (1): 72 - 84.

Course certificate

The course is of 4 credits. The assessment pattern of the course includes continuous assessment of 30 marks and end-semester examination of 70 marks. Students who successfully complete the course requirements will receive the Certificate from University of Hyderabad and SWAYAM. The credits can be used as part of the CBCS courses at various Indian Universities. 

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