UPSC MAINS SOCIOLOGY SYLLABUS
Paper 1 – Chapter 7 – Politics and Society
- Sociological theories of power.
- Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties.
- Nation, state, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology.
- Protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.
Paper 2 – Section C – (v) Social Movements in Modern India
- Peasants and farmers movements.
- Women’s movement.
- Backward classes & Dalit movement.
- Environmental movements.
- Ethnicity and Identity movements.
Environmental sociology is the field of sociology dealing with the interactions between societies and their environments. An environmental sociologist is a sociologist who studies society-environment interactions such as the environmental movement, how people in societies perceive environmental problems, the relationships between population, health, and the environment, globalization, and the mechanisms behind environmental injustice.
RELEVANCE OF THE TOPIC
Climate change is a critical problem, spanning across national boundaries and socioeconomic- political spheres. Due to the wide-ranging and deep-seated nature of its causes, researchers and policymakers face a massive task coordinating and developing effective policies to mitigate its impacts. Sociological research on global climate change has been extensive but loosely connected, and exchanges with the other social sciences and natural sciences have been limited. Sociology provides a form of social critique by examining and questioning the belief systems that reinforce current socioeconomic institutions and practices. Sociological research highlights the notion that the anthropogenic forces of climate change cannot simply be rectified by technical fixes but must take effect in concert with other influences on human behavior such as social, political, and economic structures.
FUNCTIONALIST, CONFLICT AND SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONIST PERSPECTIVES
- Functionalists see the ecosystem as exhibiting a tendency toward equilibrium; in which its components maintain a delicate balanced relationship with one another. Functionalists stress that our survival depends on our ability to maintain a precarious balance among the living and non-living component comprising the biosphere.
- Some conflict theorists have linked environmental problems to the distribution of the world’s resources than to a limited amount of resources available. From a conflict perspective people are usually
separated into two camps on environmental matters. Those who favour economic development and growth even if it results in some measure of environmental damage, and those who see environmental protection over economic goals.
- From the symbolic interactionist perspective, one can conclude that environmental issues qualify for the adjective “social” because of two reasons. One, they involve human judgements, decisions, and choices. Two, they entail an exercise of power. For instance, the poor and minorities of the Niger-Delta Region are much more exposed than other Nigerian citizens to the dangers of environmental hazards. But political skirmishes, “settlement syndrome”, and division among the Niger-Delta people have prevented all efforts to find solutions to these environmental problems.
ENVIRONMENTALISM – THINKERS AND THOUGHTS IN INDIA
Ramachandra Guha is probably the most outstanding Indian scholar to have contributed significantly to the understanding of ‘environmentalism in India’. According to him, the historical study of natural resource conflict and the anthropological study of indigenous conservation systems are two important ways of constructing a lineage for Indian environmentalism. He regards J.C. Kumarappa, Patrick Geddes, Verrier Elwin and Radhakamal Mukerjee as pioneers of human-ecological thinking in India. He traces the origins of environmental movements in India to the Chipko (Hug the Trees) movement of the Central Himalaya in the early 1970s; the following decade saw a wave of protests against commercial logging in the Himalayan foothills which had both the Gandhians as well as left wing activists involved. Guha terms the period from August 1947 to the early 1970s an age of ecological innocence in which environmental concerns were relegated to the background, given the urge to industrialize rapidly and ‘catch up’ with the developed world.
Jayanta Bandyopadhyay and Vandana Shiva have made an attempt to provide a conceptual framework for analyzing the processes and structures of modern economic development from an ecological standpoint. They analyse the relationship between economic development and conflicts over natural resources to trace the roots of ecological movements. Sumi Krishna takes examples from villages to show how development processes marginalize the poor and how environmentalism fails to provide space for people to make their own development choices.
POPULAR ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENTS IN INDIA
Chipko Movement (1973)
Focused on environmental problems of the Alaknanda catchment area in the mid Western Himalayas.
Sundarlal Bahuguna, Gaura Devi, Dhoom Singh Negi, etc led the movement.
The women hugged the trees to prevent the officials from destroying the trees.
They demanded that the benefits of forest like the right to fodder should go to local people.
It was also a fight for basic subsistence.
Appiko Chalewali Movement (1983)
It took place in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka in the Western ghats.
The locals embraced the trees which were to be cut by contractors.
It used techniques to raise awareness such as foot marches in the interior forest, folk dances, street plays, etc.
The movement also focused on the rational use of ecosystems by introducing alternative energy resources to reduce pressure on the forest.
Silent Valley Movement (1978)
Silent valley is an evergreen tropical forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala.
Movement the state government for its decision to build a dam across kunthipuzha river.
The project was not ecologically viable and the project was called off.
The valley was declared as Silent Valley National Park.
Narmada Bachao Andolan (1985)
Against Narmada River Valley Project.
Movement centered around issue of human rights.
Main leaders like Medha Patkar, Baba Amte.
Mass displacement for construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Improper rehabilitation fuelled the issue.
Later Supreme Court approves construction of dam.
The movement was successful in questioning the paradigm of development.