Sociology is the systematic study of society and human social action. The meaning of the word comes from the suffix “-ology” which means “study of,” derived from Greek, and the stem “soci-” which is from the Latin word socius, meaning “companion”, or society in general.So Environmental sociology is typically defined as the sociological study of societal-environmental interactions. Environmental sociology shows a man his place on this planet earth , that what kind of place he is having on the planet , that is steward ship , we are the steward of the planet earth .
Environmental sociology emerged as a coherent subfield of inquiry after the environmental movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. The works of William R. Catton, Jr. and Riley Dunlap, among others, challenged the constricted anthropocentrism of classical sociology. In the late 1970s, they called for a new holistic, or systems perspective. Since the 1970s, general sociology has noticeably transformed to include environmental forces in social explanations. Environmental sociology has now solidified as a respected, interdisciplinary field of study in academia. Sociology developed as a scholarly discipline in the mid- and late-19th and early 20th centuries, in a context where biological determinism had failed to fully explain key features of social change, including the evolving relationship between humans and their natural environments.
Additionally in the 1980s, with the rise of postmodernism in the western academy and the appreciation of discourse as a form of power, some sociologists turned to analyzing environmental claims as a form of social construction more than a ‘material’ requirement. Proponents of this school include John Hannigan, particularly in Environmental Sociology: A Social Constructionist Perspective (1995). Hannigan argues for a ‘soft constructions’ (environmental problems are materially real though they require social construction to be noticed) over a ‘hard constructions’’ (the claim that environmental problems are entirely social constructs).Environmental sociology is in the midst of a significant shift of problematic, from the explanation of environmental degradation to the explanation of environmental reform. There are four basic mechanisms of environmental reforms or improvement: environmental activism/movements, state environmental regulation, ecological modernization, and international environmental governance.
Although “green consumerism” is one of the most frequently discussed mechanisms of environmental improvement within environmental sociology and in movement discourse, green consumerist arguments generally tend to rest on one or more of the other four mechanisms of environmental reform. One of the main tasks of environmental sociology will be to assess which of these four mechanisms is the most fundamental to environmental reform. It is concluded that environmental movements and activism are ultimately the most fundamental pillars of environmental reform.