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By S. Yearley

As environmental matters more and more impinge on society, sociologists have grew to become their awareness to nature and the surroundings. although, not like the vast majority of sociological paintings on environmental matters, which has too frequently been ruled by way of summary theoretical disputes, this ebook concentrates on empirical reviews in environmental sociology. It indicates what sociologists can carry to present debates over environmental issues (including genetic amendment) and - utilizing the author's first-hand study - demonstrates how sociologists can most sensible pursue useful paintings on environmental topics.

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Example text

The oil industry is large but cumbersome and has never before dealt with an all out assault on its right to exist! Even here, the key charge against contemporary patterns of consumption trades on the identification of ‘our mad quest for oil’; yet the meaning of this central phrase is left unexplicated. Without some analytical understanding of the source of our ‘fixation’ on oil it is very difficult to determine which course of campaigning action to adopt. Anti-Shell campaigners devote little public attention to addressing this problem, at least in part – one assumes – because it is easier to agree that oil companies are in the wrong than to secure agreement about what precisely is wrong with Shell or the industry as a whole.

Furthermore, not even the techniques for opposing Shell can necessarily be carried over from one arena to the next; the largely successful tactics adopted by Greenpeace to address the company’s attitude to the Brent Spar were specific to that protest (see Bennie 1998 and the analysis in Chapter 9). As was mentioned above, the oil platform was out of the public eye; that isolation and the resulting fact that the Greenpeace boarding party could monopolise accounts of the conditions on the Spar was a peculiarity of the case.

In the case of genetic resistance to pests, there have been two prime concerns. Many commentators have observed that this procedure could promote the evolution of tolerant pests able to cope with the biological control measures. The second concern is that species other than the target pests might be affected. Experimental evidence, from laboratory simulations, suggested that biological insect resistance being bred into maize (corn) could be distributed in the environment by corn pollen falling onto neighbouring plants (see Pimentel and Raven 2000).

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