Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1-4 August 2012

Research Committee on
Environment and Society, RC24

  on-line programme

Environmental justice, citizenship and governance


Programme Coordinator

Stewart LOCKIE, The Australian National University, Australia,

RC24 Liaison in Argentina
Melina Tobias, Universidad de Buenos Aires,

Volunteer at the venue
España Verrastro,


All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.


provisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order


Cities and climate change

Joint session of RC21 Regional and Urban Development [host committee] and RC24 Environment and Society
Why and how have large cities, in the North and South hemispheres, taken up the challenge of climate change? Not long ago most of them thought that climate change was the responsibility of national governments and the international community, but attitudes and actions have changed and more and more cities are involved in climate change policy and initiatives.

The purpose of this session is to examine, comparatively, research on urban regions’ response to climate change. Many aspects can be looked at. Firstly, there are the likely social impacts of a warming world on large cities. Urban populations can be differently affected by climate change impacts; for instance new inequalities can arise owing to warmer environments. Secondly, reactions and responses may differ greatly. What is the role of urban governments; what actions are selected and in interaction with whom? Thirdly, how do civil society and social movements take part in an urban policy on climate change?

Finally, urban governance is very often inserted in a web of multi scalar governance: what is the role, if any, of higher tiers of government in climate change policy?

The session is open to research done not only on mitigation measures, but also, and even more so, on adaptation planning. We would like to focus on the contribution of social movements and civil society to climate change policy (claim-making, issue and response-framing, mobilizations, institutional participation, etc.) and on the issue of social and environmental justice (vulnerable urban social groups) with regards to the debate on climate change and its impacts on city


Climate justice, âbuen vivirâ and voluntary simplicity: New lifestyles and political commitments

Joint session of RC24 Environment and Society and RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements [host committee]
Across the world, social actors are showing growing concern about global warming and environmental devastations. While international institutions seem unable to cope with these challenges, grass-roots actors and activists’ networks are mobilizing support for a global agreement aiming at environmental protection and are developing alternative practices and visions of the world. The concept of ‘buen vivir’ illustrates the notable contribution of Latin American indigenous communities to the debate. In Europe and North America, citizens have appropriated alternative lifestyles, consuming less natural resources. This panel will focus on citizens’ initiatives and social movements envisioning to deal with environmental issues both by developing alternative lifestyles and promoting active participation in public debates.


Conflicting economies, livelihoods and social-environmental interactions in coastal regions

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC24 Environment and Society [host committee]
The decline of fisheries around the world has a profound impact on livelihoods and collective identities in coastal communities. However, coastal environments remain key sites of social interaction with nature, through tourism, offshore oil development and aquaculture. Each of these economies and livelihoods offers a different vision for the future of coastal communities, and they produce different types of environmental risks and impacts. They also often come into conflict with each other, as was spectacularly demonstrated by the impacts of the recent BP oil spill on local fisheries and tourist economies in the Gulf of Mexico. This session invites papers that analyse the tensions and conflicts among divergent models of economic development and social interaction with coastal environments.


Environmental attitudes and behaviours

The views and actions of the general public, and those of various stakeholder groups and other interests, often play a key role in environmental controversies and policy-making. For this reason sociologists continue to conduct surveys designed to assess opinions on environmental issues, as well as to examine in detail the nature and sources of environmental attitudes, beliefs and values and their relationships to environmentally relevant behaviors. This session will provide a forum for empirical studies of these phenomena.


Environmental movements, organizations and civil societies

This session will consider the changing roles that environmental movements, organizations and civil society actors play in environmental politics and management, both individually and/or in collaboration, at all scales of governance. Submissions are welcome that address any aspect of social movement and civil society mobilization including: citizen motivations to participate; the internal dynamics of movements and organizations; relationships between environmental/civil society organizations, the state and capital; the impact of mobilization on environmental behaviours, policy and/or programs; and so on. Particularly welcome are submissions that critically assess the roles of environmental and civil society organizations in global processes of environmental governance such as the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP 15 negotiations) in Copenhagen (and thereafter), and in national, regional and local responses to these processes. Are environmental and civil society organizations driving change through their involvement in environmental governance or does their participation simply indicate capture by the agendas of more powerful actors?


Environmental problems, natural disasters, and socio-technical risks

Planet Earth has always had extreme weather events, earthquakes, etc. These disturbances of nature are increasingly being internalized into societies and the interaction of social constructions with nature’s constructions intensified. As the human population increases towards nine billion, far more people and their constructions are being put in harm’s way. Modern technologies are recombining nature’s processes in dangerous techniques to meet energy and consumption aspirations and are interacting with the forces of primal nature. Japan’s electricity generating nuclear reactors in the path of a tsunami and BP’s deep sea, high pressure oil gusher are examples.

Worst-case scenarios have repeatedly been underestimations of high impact, supposedly low probability risk. They are linguistic constructions, whereas worse cases result from the interaction of nature’s hazards with vulnerability. Social constructions are unleashing new constructions of nature, for example mechanization using fossil fuels that result in carbon emissions lets loose emergent climatic forces. The environment has become a medium by which social practices in powerful countries affect distant poor countries.

Are societies presently in the incubation period of man-made disasters of tomorrow, perhaps on a global scale? Exaggerating risk generates alarmism, but underestimating it results in calamities. To ensure safety, recombinant and primal nature have to be monitored and risks accurately assessed, anthropogenic hazards mitigated, and preparation, adaptation and resilience enhanced. Some societies are doing better than others in dealing with these issues. How can their differing responses be explained? This session invites papers exploring these themes.


Global Commodity Chains And Environmental Flows


Governing global socio-ecological systems

Talk about globalization is commonplace in sociology and increasingly also within environmental sociology as flows of commodities, natural resources, information, people etc transgress the boundaries of the nation states. However, we know relatively very little about how global systems actually work, what type of human resources they mobilize, how transboundary issues are resolved, and what new configurations and institutions emerge from globalization. We know even less about how to harness the new social-ecological structures so as to meet needs that arise in addressing global sustainability over the long term. This session will look at theories and concepts, social and integrated research projects, as well as civic society networks and public organizations developing innovative practical initiatives to support the sustainable governance of global systems.


Leisure and tourism: Social and environmental concerns. Part I

Joint session of RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee] and RC24 Environment and Society
Tourism, a major segment of leisure has taken both enhancing and deleterious forms. Seen as an important part of the millennium Development goals, tourism has proved to be a double edged weapon with some societies benefitting greatly from it while others suffering from cultural depletion due to it. Another aspect of tourism today is the merging of pilgrimage and sacred sites with commercial tourism. How far is this merging beneficial and to what extent does it deplete the sanctity of the sacred sites. A critical examination of the transformation of meaningful cultural forms into performative sites for the pleasure of tourists, especially in traditional societies, would also be encouraged in this session. Besides this, there are significant environmental implications both of leisure and tourism and as such close examination is required of their interface in multicultural and multinational settings.


Leisure and tourism: Social and environmental concerns. Part II

Joint session of RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee] and RC24 Environment and Society


Natural resource governance: Participation, citizenship and democratization

The relationship between the control and government of natural resources such as water has been long the object of interdisciplinary social science enquiry. We expect that this session will attract papers that bring together two or more of the following thematic strands connected with what in current debates is termed, broadly speaking, natural resource governance: As the title of the session suggests, it is mainly concerned with the reproduction of old and the emergence of new forms of r inequality and injustice, and with the obstacles and opportunities facing the project of substantive democratization of natural resource governance and management worldwide.


Natural resource rights and other environmental issues and solutions in developing countries

The environmental problems of developing nations and their potential solutions differ in important ways from those of developed countries. Today’s rapidly industrializating nations struggle with environmental problems that resemble those experienced by today’s developed countries a century ago: massive industrial pollution, explosive urbanization, increasingly heavy demands on natural resources, and threats to wilderness and cultural landscapes. Those with stagnant economies and widespread poverty, on the other hand, struggle to provide clean water, manage solid waste, and cope with rapid population growth and the attendant demands on resources whose ownership rights are poorly defined. And regardless of whether economies are stagnant or expanding, deforestation, desertification, resource conflicts and the negative effects of climate change are pervasive problems for developing nations.

The position of developing countries in the world economy, including the legacy of colonialism, and differing levels of development also have significant effects on the constellation of possible solutions. Underfunded governments often struggle to mobilize the financial, administrative, and technical resources required for combatting environmental problems, and environmental issues must often compete with other seemingly more pressing needs. Technological fixes for environmental problems are possible, but, in many cases require a low tech rather than a high tech approach.

Democratic governance is not everywhere present, and authoritarian governments are sometimes skeptical of environmental movements and organisations as possible rallying points for oposition. Citizens frequently mobilize themselves to protect their health or the sources of their livelihoods from threats, and such groups can become parts of national or international networks; however, environmental NGOs experience difficulties developing a national funding base and organizing on the national level and--particularly in the least developed countries--are often heavily dependent on external support.

For this session, we welcome papers that help to illuminate these unique environmental problems and examine how possible solutions are conditioned by and can successfully overcome obstacles to effective environmental action. Papers that examine: natural resource rights; governace; the role of environmental movements and NGOs in the solution of environmental problems are particularly welcome.


New directions in environmental sociology


Nuclear power, risk and climate change

Nuclear power generation is an important option for many national government that set the mid-term or/and long-term GHG reduction targets against climate change to meet their goals. Following the Fukushima accident, many governments changed or re-planned this situation. How has pubic support for nuclear options changed in this context? We would like to explore risk-risk situations and people’s support or opposition to governmental policy responses to the twin risks of nuclear accidents and climate change. We would like to compare the situations in many countries not only developed countries but also developing countries and discuss future directions of our energy security and climate change policies.


RC24 Business Meeting


RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 1

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 2

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 1

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 2

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 1

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 2

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 1

RC24 Environment and Society Round Table Session: Current research in environmental sociology 2

Social justice and the environment

Discussion of the connections between the environment and social justice are relatively recent. They are, however, taking a prominent place in both academic and political debates, with practical consequences, alongside recognition that global environmental crises and strategies to address them may both produce greater social inequality. Thus, the finding that many hazardous waste treatment plants have been located in poor or ethnic neighborhoods, either in the same country or in other countries; environmental taxes, for example, for carbon, which are not socially progressive; industrial relocation as a result of globalization... Acknowledging these connections is not enough. If we accept that a “good society” means, among other things, to fight social inequality then it is necessary both to deepen understanding of the problem and, from there, to provide solutions.

This session is aimed therefore to describe, analyze, interpret, and provide solutions to combine the struggle for a healthy environment and the fight to reduce social inequality. Concepts and ideas such as environmental justice, strong sustainable development, risk society, deliberative democracy, citizenship, governance, and environmental and social movements, among others, can give content to this session, either from theoretical perspectives or from the analysis of specific cases.


Social justice, democratization and environmental sociology

This session will set the scene for RC24’s involvement in the 2012 ISA Forum of Sociology by focusing on the contribution of environmental sociology to the Forum’s central theme of social justice and democratization. This is a regular session and the invitation to propose papers is open to all. The emphasis will be on papers that stretch the boundaries of environmental sociology, theoretically and/or empirically; that challenge us to think in new ways about the objects of environmental sociological inquiry and the conceptual tools we bring to that inquiry; and which alert us to new subjects and partners in our sociological endeavor.


Social learning for sustainability: Knowledge, democracy and justice

Mounting scientific knowledge on social-ecological changes and approach to planetary boundaries has not yet led to adequate responses at the levels of societal learning and societal change to address the challenge of sustainability. A crucial reason for that is the way dominant knowledge and learning systems are currently constructed, and especially, how they misrepresent the plurality of perspectives and valid sources of knowledge that are necessary to deal with complex sustainability problems in different communities, organizations and levels of action.

This session will look at how information, knowledge and learning systems can be improved with regard to their democratization, content, and design processes so as to meet sustainability goals. Furthermore, on the one hand, it will look at the unevenness in the appropriation, generation and distribution of knowledge and how such unfair distribution affects environmental change. On the other, it will look at new ideas, concepts and examples of learning partnerships aimed at producing alternative views and practices of knowledge and learning. Particular focus will be given to Latin American perspectives on sustainable development education, community-based natural resource management, and environmental justice movements from the Global South.


Sustainable consumption and environmental behaviours

The sphere of consumption is increasingly identified as a target of environmental governance. State agencies, retailers/producers and social movements attempt to mobilize people as consumers of the ‘right’ products and as environmental citizens or activists. Consumer ‘demand’ has become a problem in a world facing resource constraints at the same time that it has become a force for change in the production and transport of commodities. While supply chains become more and more complex, ethically minded citizens as well as CSR-sensitive public and private buyers are increasingly eager to learn about the social and environmental conditions behind the products they purchase. How can ‘citizen consumers’ learn about social and environmental risks in different parts of the supply chain and develop pro-active approaches to deal with these risks? To what extent is consumption driven by habitualized social practices and embedded socio-technical systems? Ought state and corporate actors direct and edit the choices available to people as consumers? This session welcomes papers that engage empirically and/or theoretically with these difficult and intriguing questions.


The sociogenesis of environmental injustice and inequality in Latin America: Historic-comparative sociological approaches

Joint session of RC20 Comparative Sociology , RC24 Environment and Society and WG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology [host committee]
Expressions of environmental inequality and injustice in Latin America take many forms, from the “fumigated towns” in regions taken over by intensive agriculture and the poisoning of soil and water by open cast mining to the violent displacement of populations to build large-scale infrastructure works and the development of business activities. There is by now a wealth of interdisciplinary research that systematically documents the scale and extension of these problems, from Mexico to Patagonia. This session aims at looking at this mounting evidence on environmental injustice and inequality from a historic-comparative sociological perspective, bringing together theoretical approaches and empirical evidence. It will explore such issues as the interweaving of social and environmental inequality and injustice in development policies, the weight of the environmental dimension in Latin American sociology, or the continuities and ruptures identifiable in Latin American politics in relation to environmental inequality and injustice.


Trade unions in the green economy

Joint session of RC24 Environment and Society and RC44 Labor Movements [host committee]
We propose a session to discuss the different ways in which trade unions across the world are responding to the challenges of climate change. The effects of climate change are being felt globally, but as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has written “The main victims of climate change will be the workers, in particular in developing countries, whose sole responsibility will be to have been born poor in the most fragile parts of the planet.” Being in Latin America gives us the opportunity to invite scholars and trade unionists from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Brazil, where trade unions have been building alliances with environmental movements, trying to find a common agenda to combat climate change and create jobs. The Rio 20+ Earth Summit in Rio will have taken place at the beginning of June 2012. This session would also be an opportunity to discuss what the conclusions of the Earth Summit mean for the trade union movement. Climate Change is one of the major global justice issues in which trade unions are engaged, demanding a “Just Transition” to a “Green Economy”. So far there is very little scholarly and public discussion about their practices, and perspectives.




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November 2012