Sociological reflection of environmental problems: interim results from 25 years of observations


Author analyses social importance of the natural environment for the activities of various social actors; the necessity of taking into account ecological and sociological theories of social practice, social events and institutional models that have ecological value. The prevalence and social significance of the processes and phenomena of the double socio-ecological nature is noted. The need for a sociological reflection of environmental issues is explained by the fact that social community, with the exception of extreme conditions of environmental and technological disasters, does not just react to biophysical parameters of the environment, but also perceives social problems caused by the anthropogenic load on the natural environment, including environmental risk conditions of everyday living.

Special attention is given to clarification of the terms “social ecology”, “environmental sociology” and the use of the concept “environment”. It is noted that the permanent coexistence of various views on the social interpretation of nature, without a real desire to reach consensus in the terminology of sociological study method of environmental issues, reproduces the isolation of national researchers from the Western sociological school. The paper suggests retrospective of major domestic studies conducted by social scientists on environmental issues for the entire period of Ukrainian independence. Ukrainian sociologists’ approach to the study of environmental issues is based on the assertion that the causes of environmental problems, the results of their impact on human society, like the possible ways of solving are related to processes of social regulation. The essence of this regulation is determined by the mechanism of the formation of social relations stable forms between the subjects of social interest on risk-reflection, adequate nature and severity of environmental problems.

As evidenced by the analysis, over the past decade, the Ukrainian sociologists have focused on the study of the environmental component of balanced social development; various aspects of ecological consciousness; the social consequences of the Chernobyl disaster; the influence of environmental factors on health and well-being; the study of particular environmental problems; the study of environmental policy and environmental rights of citizens. The most empirically developed area is the study of the public opinion attitude towards the environment.

Author emphasizes the importance of scientific and practical value of public opinion monitoring on environmental problems and the need for relevant methodology for the study of specific social communities on this matter.

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