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Sustaining developments in environmental sociology

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Abstract

I have no intention of responding to this challenge by mapping the boundaries of environmental social theory. Such an exercise would be incomplete the moment it was finished. In any case, environmental challenges spread far and wide, presenting opportunities for multidisciplinary enquiry which subject-based definitions cannot encompass. For the time being, therefore, it is tempting to favour limitlessly broad understandings of ‘the environment’, allowing a thousand flowers to bloom rather than risking any prematurely restrictive definition. This open approach has its advantages but it is important not to dodge the definitional issues entirely. If the ‘global environment’ is so loose a term that anything can be accommodated under its generous umbrella the questions outlined above will be too slippery to address. One practical solution is to take the chapters in this volume as a point of departure. Drawing upon this material we can begin to construct a considered response to those nagging jibes about the substance, status and future of sociological involvement in global environmental debate.