ch 1 introduction

summary paragraph on religion and environmental concern research, specifically work focusing on conservative Protestants and evangelical Christians…

“Social scientific understanding of religion’s role in environmental concern is murky though. Decades after Lynn White’s (1967) charge that Christianity causes modern ecological crises, the association of religion with environmentalism still appears contradictory. “Environmental evangelicals” exist, Christians care about creation, and interfaith coalitions join secular advocates in protests lobbying policymakers for action on climate change. Conservative Protestants who oppose government environmental protection policies contrast this pro-environmental activism and are the most likely nonbelievers in US society about if global climate change is happening. The accumulated evidence from quantitative survey-based inquiries remains mixed about if, and how, “dominion” or “literalist” biblical beliefs, a Christian “fundamentalist” orientation toward the world, conservative Protestant eschatology, and dispensationalist theology explain climate change skepticism and lack of public support for environmentalism among this religious sector of US society.”




continuing through the very beginning, narrowing the dissertation’s focus for the reader… is it working?

“The inherent complexities of ecological conditions is perhaps nowhere more clearly illustrated than in global climate change. The magnitude and severity of threats posed by global climate change make mitigating policies imperative (REFS: IPCC, US NAS, International insurance adjusters, & US military assessments). Reliance on natural resources that contribute to climate change for production substances to drive economic growth turns policymakers simultaneously away from it. Environmental movements use public concern about climate change to pressure policymakers, but face challenges in broadening the social bases of their support among large segments of the population. Meanwhile vocal skeptics and representatives of business interests doubt climate science and argue for certainty as a criterion for policy action (REFS). Given such complexity, individuals are likely to rely on their own cultural resources and experts when making decisions about the nature of climate change, its effects, and calls by climate protection advocates to support government actions for addressing it. Highly religious people, for example, may draw on their religious doctrines as they form their perceptions of the existence and threat posed by global climate change.”


Climate Change is no joke.

Climate Change is no joke. (Photo credit: hmcotterill)

back to chapter one, and an attempt to boil my central argument down to a single paragraph/sentence…



Sociologists respond to the question broadly by asserting that people define reality through the prism of cultural meanings readily available to them in their everyday lives. Individuals’ capacity for the agency to perceive reality is shaped by the cultural significance of their structural positions in society, including material conditions that influence life chances, opportunities, and lifestyles. Perceptions of ecological conditions are further complicated by their ambiguous nature and susceptibility to conflicting interpretations. I contend that the human perception of ecological conditions is contingent on the interaction of the individual’s understanding of biophysical properties and the social and cultural forces impinging on that understanding.”

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A key assumption shared by policymakers and environmental activists is that people do not care about and will not support policy to address ecological conditions that they do not deem as problematic. This assumption underlies the significance of understanding the question: How do individuals come to perceive of an environmental condition as a crucial problem?”

Before the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, ...

Before the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, air pollution was not considered a national environmental problem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Environmental movement organizations form with the aim of broadening the support of environmentalism that is registered in public opinion polls. Movement legitimacy and the capacity for defining an environmental problem as a social problem rest, in large part, on demonstrations of widespread public support. Activists engage in recruitment and education activities to generate greater citizen support in their advocacy of greater protection against harmful exposures and contaminated communities and for the improved quality of ecosystems.”


in the spirit of blog etiquette, accountability, and following through… here’s something for yesterday (sat. march 2) from chapter 1 : statement of the research problem –

“In modern societies based on industrial production, policymakers tend to avoid definitions of environmental problems as social problems that require their attention because of the belief that such policies substantially counter the legislative priority of facilitating capital accumulation and economic growth. Consequently, environmental policies are typically passed only when policymakers feel pressured by public demands. Public opinion polls are common empirical measures of public attitudes toward environmental problems that policymakers use to gauge environmentalism.”
Mobilizing Ideas

Activists and Scholars Debate Social Movements and Social Change