appel à com: XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, 13–19 July 2014

ISA_2014Propositions du Research Committee on Environment and Society, RC24

Program Theme: Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Environmental Sociology


Program Coordinator


  • Stewart LOCKIE, Australian National University, Australia,

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On-line abstracts submission

June 3, 2013, 11:00 GMT – September 30, 2013 24:00 GMT.


Anti-Nuclear Movements Post-Fukushima

Session Organizers
Koichi HASEGAWA, Tohoku University, Japan,
Sun-Jin YUN, Seoul National University, Korea,

Session in English

The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011 had serious political implications for politicians, regulatory agencies, operators and others involved in the nuclear power sector in Japan and internationally. While the accident provided new impetus to anti-nuclear movements and activities, a number of questions remain concerning its short and long-term implications both for anti-nuclear politics and for environmental social movements more broadly.

This session welcomes papers addressing questions such as:

  1. How have anti-nuclear movements changed in the wake of Fukushima? Who are the new participants and major actors?
  2. What styles, strategies and tactics have emerged?
  3. To what extent have anti-nuclear movements been able to influence energy policy and practice?
  4. What differences can we find and what has caused those differences among countries?
  5. What prospects exist for a new wave of anti-nuclear activities across Asia and worldwide?


Climate Change Responses in East Asia

Session Organizer
Keiko HIRAO, Sophia University, Japan,

Session in English

Climate change issues for human society are socially constructed. This session focuses on political decision making processes and media coverage of climate change issues in East Asia. In East Asia, rapid economic growth is bringing rapid energy demand and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. This session will work towards international comparative studies of this issue.

Submissions are welcome on topics such as:

  • How do governments and industry collaborate in policy formation?
  • How do these relationships affect wider debate over policies such as emissions trading, carbon taxes, and direct regulation under environmental laws?
  • What differences and similarities can be found and what has caused these differences across East Asia?


Emerging Research in Environmental Sociology. Part I: Focus on East and South East Asia

Session Organizer
David A. SONNENFELD, State University of New York, United States,

Session in English

This session will look into recent developments in environmental sociology, both theoretically and empirically, with a particular focus on East and South East Asia.


Emerging Research in Environmental Sociology. Part II

Session Organizer
Stewart LOCKIE, Australian National University, Australia,

Session in English

This session will look into recent developments in environmental sociology, both theoretically and empirically.


Environment, Governance and Risk

Session Organizers
Pedro Roberto JACOBI, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil,
Luisa SCHMIDT, University of Lisbon, Portugal,
João GUERRA, University of Lisbon, Portugal,

Session in English

Sustainable development and international policies and regimes for promoting it, resulted from the contemporary environmental problems and risks that simultaneously are: i) hierarchical because firstly affect the weakest and most vulnerable, and ii) democratic because it is difficult to delimit its effects and consequences. This ubiquity has contributed to an obvious dispersion of state functions, across a wide, growing and diverse range of political actors, as well as the migration of political authority to local and transnational governance. Consequently, sustainable development and public participation are inextricably linked. The practical feasibility of the first often requiring the prior implementation of the second.

Assuming that policies of proximity between governors and the governed generate greater efficiency in identifying and solving problems, the notion of governance for sustainability relies on the concept of social power that mediates the relationship between State and Civil Society as a space for cooperation, alliances, conflicts and resistance. Stemming from, and with, global implications, sustainability depends on the socioeconomic characteristics and the power plays that daily occur in different communities, and thus it is important to explore the improvement conditions of participatory sustainability initiatives.

The objective of the proposed session is to explore the conditions of participatory sustainability initiatives at various issues of environmental governance, considering issues as competition, conflicts and cooperation between different stakeholders due to growing scarcity of resources, ineffective institutional arrangements, a continuous process of environmental degradation, and the persistence of environmental inequities.


Environmental Attitudes, Behaviours and Practices

Session Organizers
Ritsuko OZAKI, Imperial College London, United Kingdom,
Riley DUNLAP, Oklahoma State University, USA,

Session in English

Our society is facing serious environmental sustainability problems, such as energy security, resource scarcity, human-induced climate change, and increasing waste. To tackle these issues we have to change the ways in which we live our everyday lives: for example, recycling more, consuming less water, using more ecologically friendly forms of transportation, and adopting measures to make homes and offices more energy efficient. Sociologists have an important to role to play in facilitating environmentally friendly changes in peoples’ personal, household and public behaviours and making such behaviours part of their everyday routines.

The session welcomes papers that address questions such as:

  • How are pro-environmental attitudes translated into pro-environmental behaviours?
  • How are pro-environmental behaviours incorporated into people’s everyday lives?
  • And how can these personal behavioural changes stimulate cultural shifts toward more sustainable lifestyles?

Given the fact that behavioural changes are required at every level of our daily activities the session’s focus on the shift from attitudes to behaviours and practices is timely, and understanding the personal and structural barriers that inhibit shifting to sustainable behaviours and practices is vital. Given the Congress theme of “Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Global Sociology,” analyses sensitive to the differences between the ecologically relevant behaviours and lifestyles prevalent in wealthy nations and those in developing nations are especially appropriate.


Environmental Governance and Global Commodities

Session Organizers
Peter OOSTERVEER, Wageningen University, Netherlands,
Julia S. GUIVANT, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil,

Session in English

While commodities such as food, fish and forestry products are more and more traded and integrated in global supply networks, the challenges when addressing their sustainability impacts are only increasing. Sustainability impacts may be local or global and occur during production, processing, trade and/or consumption stages. In recent years various initiatives have been taken to combat the environmental impact of global commodities, such as labelling and certification schemes, CSR-agendas, alternative supply chains, etc. In many of these initiatives, unfamiliar actors engage in establishing environmental governance arrangements and in developing alternatives to harmful practices.

This session welcomes papers that develop conceptual tools to analyse these dynamics, that analyse concrete cases within this theme, or that evaluate the effectiveness of different innovations in comparison with conventional government-based environmental governance arrangements.


Environmental Social Movements in the 21st Century

Session Organizer
Dana R. FISHER, University of Maryland, USA,

Session in English

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.


Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Environmental Sociology

Session Organizer
Stewart LOCKIE, Australian National University, Australia,

Session in English

This session will set the scene for RC24’s involvement in the 2014 ISA World Congress of Sociology by focusing on the contribution of environmental sociology to the Congress’s central theme of inequality and global sociology. This is a regular session and the invitation to propose papers is open to all. Papers are invited that address the relationships between inequality and environment and, in particular, the emergence of new inequalities as a cause and consequence of global environmental change.


Nano(in)equalities? Social Promises and Perils of Nanotechnologies

Session Organizers
Paulo Roberto MARTINS, Brazilian Research Network in Nanotechnology, Society and Environment, Brazil,
Luigi PELLIZZONI, University of Trieste, Italy,
Marja YLONEN, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland,

Session in English

Widespread narratives depict nanotechnologies as a core promise for a more equitable and sustainable world. Among new and emerging technosciences nanotechnologies enjoy a pivotal position, being involved in any sort of prospective or actual transformations in the conditions of life. All aspects of ‘nature’ and ‘society’ are affected. Nanotechnologies do or can find application in agriculture and food processing, in environmental protection (detecting, cleaning-up and reducing contaminants), in drug manufacturing and medical diagnostics, in human-machine interactions, in performance improvements related to all sorts of materials and fields of application. Nanotechnologies have also catalyzed a range of fundamental issues, which involve technoscience-induced change at large: from the contours of the post-human condition to the acknowledgment of irredeemable cognitive uncertainties, to the emergence of the agential power of matter.

A wide, potentially unrestricted range of applications makes nanotechnologies also especially tricky to regulate in a robust, consistent way. The main corporate and governmental concern seems actually to avoid the ‘mistakes’ that led to a strong public opposition to gene technologies, by enacting forms of anticipatory governance. Yet their multifarious role makes nanotechnologies a potential source of inequalities of all sorts and at all scales: at work and at home; in attending to basic needs and to leisure; in individual and group access to opportunities and exposure to risks; in market choice and participatory engagements; in health and environment preventive and reparative actions; within and between nation states or areas of the world.

The session seeks to collect papers on any aspect and field of application of nanotechnologies, with a focus on their impact on current and prospective inequalities and (un)sustainabilities.


New Enclosures: Resource Grabs and Environmental Challenges in the Global South

Session Organizers
Lotsmart FONJONG, University of Buea, Cameroon,
William T. MARKHAM, University of North Carolina, USA,

Session in English

In the Global South, land and other natural resources previously used by communities is increasingly being taken over by investors from Europe, America, China, the Gulf States, and other non-western countries like India, South Africa, etc. Many hectares of land have been taken over by foreign agro-business for mining and plantation agriculture particularly in Africa and South America. The practice of plantation agriculture, almost invariably monocultures, focuses on growing oil palm, corn, sugarcane, vegetables, and some 20 other agricultural products and food ingredients for western markets. Agriculture is also used for fuel production or the production of alternative clean energy for the global north.

Large scale land acquisition deals involve a number of environmental issues: They ignore the rights of local communities and Indigenous peoples on the land; transfer the ownership rights and control of water resources to foreign investors; put adjacent communities into conflict with plantation owners over water pollution and irrigation, and displace many local communities by mining. In other words, local communities are losing their land, water, soil and mineral resources.

This session invites papers that examine the environmental impact and challenges of poor countries in the wake of this resource rush in the Global South. Papers should focus on issues such as:

  • Resource grabbing and natural resource justice
  • Effects of land grabs on community rights to water
  • Corporate social responsibility versus social cost
  • Efforts of environmental movements in protecting the rights of local communities against foreign investors
  • Effects of foreign investors in agro business on clean energy
  • Effects on climate change


New Frontiers in Environment and Social Theory

Session Organizer
Stewart LOCKIE, Australian National University, Australia,

Session in English

Environmental sociologists are concerned not just to apply the tools of sociological theory and method to environmental issues and problems but to re-think sociological theory in ways that do more justice to the dynamic and varied contributions of non-humans to the social world. The emphasis of this session 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.


Nuclear Energy Post-Fukushima: Impacts, Lessons and Policy Responses

Session Organizers
Harutoshi FUNABASHI, Hosei University, Japan,
Arthur MOL, Wageningen University, Netherlands,

Session in English

The Fukushima nuclear disaster produced immense damage and suffering in Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring districts, raising many questions for sociologists. In this session, we will reflect on the following topics.

  1. Faced with such unprecedented disaster, the first mission of sociologists is to grasp the reality of victims and their communities. Akihiko SATO (Japan) will describe and analyze the damage and suffering experienced by residents who had lived around the nuclear plant.
  2. The outbreak of the Fukushima disaster implies that Japanese society has failed to learn lessons from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and has lacked effective regulatory measures on nuclear technologies. Koichi HASEGAWA (Japan) will analyze defects in policy making in Japanese society that contributed to this disaster and highlight Japanese energy policy disputes after the disaster.
  3. Lessons from the Fukushima disaster must be learned not only by Japanese society but also by all other countries which have used or will use nuclear energy. Seejae LEE (Korea) will analyze the impact and lessons of the Fukushima disaster on developing countries. He will discuss the important role of citizens` movements in changing nuclear energy policy.
  4. In spite of the enormous damage caused by the Fukushima disaster, the nuclear industry and government in some advanced countries such as the USA and France insist on the merits and necessity of nuclear energy. However, sociologists should analyze such reasoning from the viewpoint of political sociology. Looking from inside the USA, Jeffrey BROADBENT will analyze the political structure of a society where the nuclear complex plays an important role and diffuses dominant discourse.
  5. In opposition to the USA`s pro-nuclear policy, several European countries such as Germany and Switzerland have decisively chosen a path toward a nuclear free society. Ecological modernization theory is a powerful support for this direction. Arthur MOL (Netherlands), who is a leading proponent of this theory, will analyze the meaning of the Fukushima disaster from the viewpoint of environmental sociology and will propose a better way of changing energy policy as well as decision making in contemporary society.

Additional proposals for participation in this session are welcome.


RC24 Business Meeting


Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development

Session Organizers
Yasushi MARUYAMA, Nagoya University, Japan,
Rajendra PATIL, Shivaji University, India,
Shin-Ock CHANG, Jeju National University, Korea,

Session in English

Climate change, peak oil and accidents such as Fukushima have all contributed to growing interest in renewable energy. Moreover, renewable energy has attracted the attention of communities and organisations whose interests lie in the potential impacts, both positive and negative, of renewable energy for rural development, poverty alleviation, public health, environmental justice etc.

The aim of this session is to examine relationships between renewable energy and sustainable development. While there will be a particular focus on exploring the implications and possibilities for renewable energy in communities that are economically and/or politically marginalized, papers on any aspect of the sociology of renewable energy are welcome.

Potential topics include:

  • NIMBYism and other social barriers to renewable energy development
  • Social changes stimulated by renewable energy development
  • Best practice in renewable energy diffusion and implementation
  • Energy, equity and environmental justice
  • Renewable energy and poverty alleviation
  • Renewable energy policy, programs and regulatory frameworks
  • Community renewable energy projects, modification of attitudes and behaviour for sustainable energy
  • Competing constructions of ‘energy security’


Resource Consumption and Sustainability in the Global South

Session Organizer
Hellmuth LANGE, University of Bremen, Germany,

Session in English

The relationships between resource consumption and the environment raise difficult questions about reconciling poverty alleviation and social justice with the impact of exploding consumption rates among the prospering middle classes of emerging economies as well as increasing purchasing power among the poor. The cross cutting issue is ‘how to turn these consumers green’? (Ariely/McKinsey 2012). Scholarly debate of these issues is still in its infancy. As a consequence, there is an urgent need: first, for screening, systematising and assessing prevalent assumptions about the impact of rising resource consumption on meeting the requirements of more sustainable development; and second, to develop theoretical frameworks that consider the specific mix of ‘same, same – but different’, distinguishing the social, cultural and political reality of consumption in catching-up countries from the more wealthy societies of the Global Northwest.

Papers are invited on all aspects of the relationship between resource consumption and sustainability in the Global South. Potential topics include:

  • Consumption vs. consumerism: how significant is the dividing line in developing countries: does the line follow the same characteristics that are more or less accepted in the Global North?
  • Who are the new consumers in sociological respect: about socio-economic, social, and cultural diversities and what about pilot groups and entry topics of environmental concern?
  • Trans-cultural norm diffusion and hybridisation: what do we really know about globalisation of environmental concern regarding contents and temporal gradients?
  • Conducive policies aiming at encouraging more sustainable patterns of consumption in developing countries?


Social Inequalities within Protected Natural Areas

Session Organizers
Cecilia CLAEYS, Aix-Marseille Université, France,
Valérie DELDREVE, IRSTEA, France,

Session in English

Over the last decade, the increasing number of protected natural areas in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere has raised the issue of environmental justice. Indeed, the creation of protected natural areas has led to their regulation (from restriction to prohibition) regarding extraction of resources, land occupation and access to amenities. Such regulation can affect in different ways both local and outside use of protected areas, including its form, for example, whether traditional or contemporary. Rules can also affect the type of user, at times privileging wealthy users over those with fewer resources.

This session proposes developing critical analyses of the social and historical construction of protected natural areas, and at the same time, of different forms of inequalities (social, economic, ethnic, spatial…) characterising area access and its use. Based on local, national or international cases studies, paper proposals submitted should address the following questions in particular:

  • How far (and why) have processes leading to the creation of protected natural areas (contemporary or historical ones) resulted in inequalities regarding their access and use?
  • Do international environmental policies promoting Rio Declaration objectives of “public awareness and participation” contribute to reducing unequal access to natural amenities?
  • What principles of justice govern the arguments mobilised by the different stakeholders involved in consultation/negotiation/conflicts over the creation/management/use of protected natural areas?
  • How does this government of natural areas in turn interact with other international and national environmental policies (for example, to protect water or air quality) and with related international programs (such as REDD+)? Abstracts should set out the problematic to be addressed, including hypotheses, theoretical framework, type and size of the data base used where appropriate, analytical concepts and expected results.


Sustainable Consumption: Governance, Practices and Politics

Session Organizer
Magnus BOSTROM, Sodertorn University, Sweden,

Session in English

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 End of the Environmental Nation-State?

Session Organizers
Arthur MOL, Wageningen University, The Netherlands,
David A. SONNENFELD, State University of New York, USA,

Session in English

While in the economic domain the nation-state seems to strengthen its role in regulating global financial flows, in the realm of environmental policy and governance it is under assault from above and below, `inside` and `out`. Supranational environmental institutions continue to evolve and strengthen in the European Union and elsewhere; (transnational networks of) ever-smaller sub-national units advance the devolution of environmental governance and control from below; from `outside` the state, private sector and non-governmental actors increasingly establish `privatized` forms and arrangements of environmental governance. In this multiplexed environmental governance world, is the nation-state becoming increasingly irrelevant; and with what variation between countries in different parts of the globe?

As the environmental nation-state `hollows out` and recedes, can the new networks of devolved and non-state authorities, such as those of decentralized local environmental authorities; standardization, labelling and certification schemes; businesses and non-governmental organizations, step up to take its place, domestically and globally? What are the challenges of environmental effectiveness and equity for such new non-state and hybrid networks? To whom and how are they accountable? In short: is this the end of the environmental nation-state as it has been known for the last half-century?


Waste in Today’s World: Waste not Want not?

Session Organizer
Lynne CIOCHETTO, Massey University, New Zealand,

Session in English

In contemporary industrialized consumer societies the production of waste is accelerating exponentially. Issues of waste – with sewage and human waste associations – tends to be repellent and remote from everyday life. Waste problems are easy to overlook and they are overshadowed in the media by the global issues of climate and environmental changes. However, waste is an important multidimensional problem that is perilous to ignore. Waste touches on all four pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, social and cultural.

Issues of waste cover a wide spectrum: from the use of resources, to the by-products of industrialization and agribusiness, the way products are produced, consumed and discarded. In a time when global food is under pressure much of the food produced is wasted by producers, retailers or consumers. In an increasingly technical world electronic waste is becoming a major problem. The expanding demand for energy is creating many waste problems from carbon emissions to nuclear waste. As urbanization accelerates in the developing world cities are becoming overwhelmed by inadequate infrastructure to process waste. Our seas are becoming polluted with chemicals and plastics.This panel invites submissions that cover the spectrum of waste from micro-level to macro-level, from case studies to policy.

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