An Invitation to Environmental Sociology
In their textbook An Introduction to Environmental Sociology, Michael M. Bell and Loka Ashwood offer a scholarly and practical guide to tackling the daunting environmental challenges of our time. This unusual combination helps enliven the topic for students and is complemented with a helpful toolkit of supporting teaching and examination materials.
The textbook comes in a 3-part delivery.
How do Bell and Ashwood bring these themes to life in the textbook to effectively engage students? Through examples like this one, where the authors draw on vivid scenes and experiences to find practical changes to the material and ideological problem of industrial livestock production.
In the US, most cattle end up in feedlots out west.
Fewer options for farmers to sell their products at market and close to home devastate rural communities.
Rather than away from home on muddy lots, Loka and her husband Jason decided to finish their cattle locally on ample grass in rural Illinois.
McDonough County, where Loka and Jason raised cattle at the time, is one of four rural Illinois counties with a high poverty rate. Instead of large packers selling beef anonymously to retailers, and pocketing much of the profit, Jason and Loka decided to sell and raise locally to help relink community, food and environment.
Not everyone thinks local food is the answer. Others believe globalization and outsourcing more efficiently feed the world.
People sometimes use ideas like “feed the world” to pass trade regulations that remove even domestic labeling and implement tax write-offs for large corporations.
Relinking the fragmented chain of food production to revitalize the ecocommunity comes at the intersection of materiality and ideology.
Chefs gathered at Chicago’s Hopleaf restaurant to relink the chain of food and culture by serving a whole, Illinois-raised cow to their restaurant patrons. Their ideals change the material conditions of food consumption in their restaurants.
Local food doesn’t have all the answers, but it is a practical start that this exploratory textbook helps students learn and critique.
This short story about industrial agriculture and its challenges is a glimpse into the delivery of An Invitation to Environmental Sociology. The textbook uses stories like this one to bring to its other chapters to life:
- The Ideology of Environmental Domination
- The Ideology of Environmental Concern
- The Human Nature of Nature
- The Rationality of Risk
- Mobilizing the Ecological Society
- Governing the Ecological Society
- Living in the Ecological Society