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Environmental sociology
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Environmental sociology

Environmental sociology is typically defined as the study of societal-environmental interactions, or the relationships between modern societies and their biophysical environments. Environmental sociologists study the factors that cause environmental problems, the societal impacts of those problems, as well as efforts to solve the problems. In addition, considerable attention is paid to the social processes by which certain environmental conditions become socially defined as problems, particularly by scholars with a "social constructivist" orientation.

Although there was debate between the constructivist and realist "camps" within environmental sociology in the 1990s, the two sides have found considerable common ground as both increasingly accept that while most environmental problems have a material "reality" they nonetheless become known only via human processes such as scientific knowledge, activists' efforts and media attention. In other words, most environmental problems have a "real" ontological status despite our knowledge/awareness of them stemming from social processes, processes by which various conditions are "constructed" as problems by scientists, activists, media and other social actors.

For overviews of the field see the Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Greenwood Press, 2002; ISBN 0313268088) or the International Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Edgar Elgar, 1997; ISBN 1840642432).