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Anthropocene - a cautious welcome from environmental sociology?

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Sociology
Issue number4
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)395-406
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date3/10/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper concerns the way in which environmental sociologists might approach the concept of ‘the Anthropocene’. As our title suggests, we extend in the paper a cautious welcome to this concept. Such a stance – an openness to ‘natural’ accounts accompanied by cautionary tales – has a long history within environmental sociology. In the paper, we document how the concept of the Anthropocene presents environmental sociology with a global environmental narrative that supports many of its own modes of thought. The concept of the Anthropocene reinforces, for example, the value of scholarship scrutinising ontological relationality, political-economic change, inter-disciplinary collaboration and cause-effect dynamics. At the same time, contemporary narratives of the Anthropocene seem to pose challenges for environmental sociology. We suggest that these narratives open up a need to think carefully about issues of naturalisation, difference, knowledge, agency and justice. We suggest that environmental sociology needs to draw on the full repertoire of its discipline in order to establish a critical-constructive relation between its own ways of thinking and those that are currently prominent within the narrative of the Anthropocene.