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Environmental Sociology Essay

2163 words - 9 pages

Development processes is connected with environmental degradation and use of natural resources. Rudel et al. (2011) assumes the present of two distinct waves of development power which control environment. The first wave of political economy deals with the power of capitalism as the main agent for environmental degradation, while the second wave concern with the social power (community) to control the use of natural resources.
In this first wave scenario, the idea is that capitalism is a significant power for shaping the performance of environment. IPAT/STIRPAT Theory proposes that capitalism is the cause for environment degradation because --in combination with rapid population growth and affluence (prosperity)-- they altogether increase consumption. The mass consumption may be achieved through the application of technology (through accumulation of capital), which in turn lead to environmental degradation and natural resources depletion in long term, either locally (as mainly studied by scholars in Sociology of Natural Resources) or in broader scopes (usually studied by Environmental Sociology scholars) (see Buttel, 2002). This theory suggests multiple factors which may cause environmental problems. Thus, to decrease the overall impacts of development to environment, people should manage resources wisely, use appropriate technologies, and try to control the human population.
Other perspective proposes that because the spirit of capitalism is profit oriented, then the way it works is just like treadmill machine. The theory of Treadmill Production suggest that under capitalism principle, factories produces output in such a way to maximize their profits through running production continuously and efficiently, like a treadmill, taking as much as natural resources without taking much account on the impacts to environment. Rudel et al. (2011) provides examples of this theory by pointing the heavy industrial production in East Asia and former socialist countries after World War II. Principally, Treadmill Production Theory do not consider population and affluent as significant factor for environmental degradation, and put more emphasis on the issue of technology as the main contributor for the decrease of environmental quality. Both the IPAT/STIRPAT and Treadmill Production theories overlook the condition “behind the scene”, why the technology exists in the process of development. In other words, these theories do not consider the social actors which are responsible for the present of this technology.
Indeed, the coercion of capital to exploit natural resources is possible only because it is supported by the conglomeration of powerful social actors behind it. According to Growth Machine Theories, syndication of vested interests (government, land owners, developers, real estate companies), which often claim themselves as “pro-growth” coalition, encourages local development through real estate business activities, while excluding the interest...

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