294 pages, Figs
With translations of previously unpublished material, this themed collection of major European writers explores issues related to technology, risk and nature. The first section examines the instrumentalisation of nature and the relation among science, technology and expert systems. The book concludes with an examination of the institutionalisation of environmentalism, the politics of ecology, and the role that the social sciences can play in these debates.
'This is the strongest edited collection on the relationship between modernity, risk and the environment to be published to date and it deserves a place on the book shelf of every one who takes these issues seriously. Perhaps more importantly this book needs to be read by everyone who thinks that existing responses will ultimately "solve the environmental problem". The editors present the collection as a "slow manifesto" capable of transforming the reductionism and realism they see dominating both natural and social scientific approaches to the environment. In twelve essays, organised into three sections, considerable progress is made towards this ambitious goal. The terrain transversed in the process is intellectually stimulating and demanding but amongst it lie some of the clearest renditions of complex positions currently available... the overall standard is so consistently high. The reader is provided with an extremely lucid and coherent guide to the terrain covered in the introduction... Summarising the overall argument of a book like this in a short review is inevitably hazardous but I would identify three main themes which are sustained throughout. First, there is a central recognition that empiricism can only provide society with data which in and of itself is no guide to action. Second, the production and interpretation of data is seen as inescapably tied to the normative judgements whether these are supplied by a scientific set of interpretative frames or not. Third, all knowledge needs to be seen as bearing the imprint of the social sites involved in its creation and thus inescapably carries moral, ethical and cultural markers and implications. This may sound like familiar and well rehearsed territory but one of the distinguishing features of this book is that these arguments are offered, not as an assault on empiricism and realism, but as an invitation to address an agenda with the potential to transform the normative use of both these terms... The slow agenda has however, been eloquently reprised here and contains many sign-posts directing the willing towards fruitful avenues of exploration. This is a book with an important message one can only hope that it is read and widely debated' - Environmental Politics 'This book offers a set of interesting and thought-provoking essays discussing the complex relationship between modernity, environmentalism and the emergence of a risk society... It offers a wide review of relevant literature and is up to date with recent developments in its related fields. Moreover, it has a clear structure and chapters follow 'naturally' so that the reader can follow the thread of the arguments presented' - Sociological Research Online 'This book provides a welcome addition to the literature on environment and modernity by collecting papers from key contributors to the debates together in one volume. The wide-ranging subject matter of the papers in the collection should mean that it appeals to an audience beyond those specifically interested in environmental sociology. In this it represents an important move towards establishing discussion of the environment as central to contemporary sociology, rather than being confined to a marginal field of the discipline' - British Journal of Sociology
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