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Updated: Dec 1, 2020

By Prof. Indrajit Acharyya, Umeschandra College Calcutta University (SACT), Contact no: 9830032403, E-mail: indro06.com@gmail.com


Environmental sociology is the study of interactions between societies and their natural environments. The sector emphasizes the social factors that influence environmental resource management and cause environmental issues, the processes by which these environmental problems are socially constructed and defined as social issues, and societal responses to those problems. It is often typically defined because of the sociological study of societal-environmental interactions, although this definition immediately presents the perhaps insolvable problem of separating human cultures from the remainder of the environment. Although the most target of the world is that the connection between society and environment generally, environmental sociologists typically place special emphasis on studying the social factors that cause environmental problems, the societal impacts of these problems, and efforts to unravel the issues additionally, much attention pays to the social processes by which certain environmental conditions become socially defined as problems. It focuses on questions such as: how environmental issues are known, defined and acted upon; why certain environmental issues are largely ignored or denied; the role of institutions and economic systems in shaping relationships with the non-human environment; how different social groups are disabled from environmental change and problems; human-animal relations; human conceptions and cultural representations of the natural world; and the role of social movements in promoting environmental reform. Consequently, increasing sociological work on environmental issues has been amid a critique and reassessment of core sociological assumptions and practices, so that environmental sociology features a somewhat ambivalent stance toward its parent discipline.


Environmental issues achieved a big place globally; the severe problems receiving attention such as attended air and pollution, loss of aesthetic values, and resources conservation. Consequently, attempts to live public concern for environmental quality or environmental concern, focused totally on such conditions (e.g. Weigel and Weigel, 1978).

In recent decades, environmental issues have evolved in significant ways. Although localized pollution, especially hazardous waste continues to be a significant issue, environmental problems have generally inclined to become more geographically dispersed, less directly observable, and more ambiguous in origin. This study is an effort to appraise concern for environmental pollution in India, during a local context. Taking under consideration a possible East-West difference in conceptualizing environmental concern, it attempts to know the role of various socio- demographic variables in predicting environmental concern in an Indian context. Many studies of the west are nearly non-existent within the Indian context. Any attempt for review, therefore, grossly depends on the ‘western ‘enthusiasm during this regard. The West has influenced the people of the East in some ways one among them being environmentally through environmental concern since the first 1970s. Especially in India the influence also created movements just like the Chipko movement, Narmada Bachao Andolon etc which involved all the environmental issues. Having a better check out the movements it is often found out that they were all livelihood centric and fewer environmental. A number of the students were encouraged to confer an environmental ticket on these movements of disadvantaged people. This is often visible from the shortage of data of environmental concern literature in India as compared to the west (Chatterjee 2008).

Environmental concerns are increasing around the globe (Givens and Jorgenson 2011, Mohai et al, 2010) and people are actively participating in several movements. On environmental issues and concerns, India carries a heavier burden because it generally accepted that pollutant concentrations are exceedingly high in many developing countries imposing real health costs and shortening life (Chen, et. al., 2013). The rapid economic processes experienced by India over the past decade and a half have accompanied some unwelcome consequences. The rapid industrialization and economy growth has resulted in unhealthy air and pollution affecting sudden infant death syndrome rate rates and expectancy rates (Striessing, Schbpp and Amann, 2013). Energy environmental problems like chemical and oil pollution and greenhouse emission which are the main issues (Greenstone and Hanna, 2014).The study attempts to explore the association of various variables like age, education, residence, and income, with environmental concern at the local level. First, within the general review of environmental concern literature, Jones and Dunlap (1992) and Dunlap (1995) found that age is the consistently most reliable way about explaining concern. An outsized study has shown an indirect correlation between age and environmental concern (Goken et al., 2000; Jones and Dunlap, 1992; Lowe et al., 1980; Theodori et al., 1998; Van Liere and Dunlap, 1980). At an equal time, there are studies that report no relationship or an inconsistent association (Dietz et al., 1998; Samdahl and Robertson, 1989). Within the Indian context, Kumra (1982), conversely, reports a positive association between the 2. In a recent study, we found age isn't directly related to environmental concern. Secondly, it's been generally reported that education is a positively correlated concern for the environment (Lowe et al., 1980; Van Liere and Dunlap, 1980). The more educated a person is that the more likely he or she is to point out environmental concern and commitment (WYR, 2003: 139). Thirdly, leading scholars also note rural–urban differences in environmental concern. It’s generally believed that urban residents are more environmentally concerned than their rural counterparts (Jones and Dunlap, 1992; Lowe et al., 1980). Within the Indian context, however, there's hardly any plan to explore a residential differential with reference to environmental concern. Fourthly, the association between income and environmental concern is ambiguous (Van Liere and Dunlap, 1980). A couple of studies give an account of a moderately positive association reporting that higher income groups are more environmentally concerned than lower-income categories (Theodori and Luloff, 2002). In the beginning, environmental sociology operated at the relative margins of the discipline. Early contributions like Catton and Dunlap (1978) and Schnaiberg (1980) were highly influential within the sector but garnered modest attention in mainstream sociology. Especially within the past 20 years, however, environmental sociology scholarship has moved increasingly from the margins into the mainstream of the discipline – even while becoming more interdisciplinary (Pellow and Nyseth Brehm 2013).

The mainstreaming of environmental sociology evidences partly by articles like Foster (1999), Frank, Hironaka, and Schofer (2000), Grant, Bergesen, and Jones (2002), York, Rosa, and Dietz (2003), Hooks and Smith (2004), Cable, Shriver, and blend (2008), Auyero and Switstun (2008), Rudel (2009), Crowder and Downey (2010), Grant et al. (2010), Longhofer and Schofer (2010), Foster and Holleman (2012), Jorgenson and Clark(2012), Pampel and Hunter (2012), Elliott and Frickel (2013, 2015), and Dokshin (2016) in the two top disciplinary journals, American Sociological Review and American Journal of Sociology, also as two recent reviews of the sector within the Annual Review of Sociology (Rudel, Timmons Roberts, and Carmin 2011; Pellow and Nyseth Brehm 2013). A new study by Scott and Johnson (2017) documents the growing presence of environmental sociology within top-tier sociology journals and suggests that increased attention to stratification and inequality has helped move environ-mental research into the disciplinary core. Our study complements theirs by providing an analysis of key topics in the field drawn from a far wider range of sociology journals, with the goal of shedding light on major themes and trends in our highly diverse field (Lockie 2015). The analysis presented here identifies 25 key topics within environmental sociology over a quarter-century, making use of text-mining techniques. These techniques allow researchers to quantitatively analyze digitized text, with several contributions already made by sociologists in the areas of culture, discourse, environmental sociology, organizations, networks, and social movements (Moody and Light 2006; Di Maggio, Nag, and Blei 2013; Mohr and Bogdanov 2013; Light 2014; Bail 2016; Farrell 2016a, 2016b; Light and Cunningham 2016). For example, Farrell (2016a) used computational approaches to text analysis to explore the content produced by organizations promoting global climate change denial, documenting trends that differ by the funding source.

It observes that generally, NEP scale used globally but according to Chatterjee (2008) NEP scale is inapplicable in the local context of India, particularly West Bengal. In understanding environmental concern in India, requires the understanding of the study. Both the scales used for the same set of people in understanding the concern of people towards the environment. Therefore a study is conducted by two scales.


Now cutting deep into the subject, NEP and DPC cross tab has been shown below:

DPC Categories
Download DOCX • 14KB

Aforesaid Table shows the relationship between NEP and DPC scale. It observes that in the low- class of NEP, a higher proportion of respondents’ exhibit low commitment in DPC (39.3%). Similarly in the same class, a relatively lower proportion of respondents have a higher concern in DPC (11.1%). So both scales have almost equal results. In the higher class of the NEP scale, a relatively lower proportion of respondents have a low commitment in DPC scale (8.4%).

Similarly in the same class, a higher proportion of respondents have a higher commitment in DPC scale (52.9%). Therefore from the table, it observes that in the lower class both, NEP and DPC have a higher percentage of low concern which is compatible but at the same time it shows that (60.7%) are not compatible. In the same way, it shows that in the higher class, NEP and DPC have almost (52.3%) the similar percentage of concern but (46.7%) is dissimilar. Chatterjee scale has already said that the NEP scale can’t be used in the local context of India; hence it proves from the above table. As NEP scale is used globally, the present researcher tried to find acceptability of the scale in measuring the concern of people in India and totally Chatterjee’s words but it got proved it can’t be used in the context of India.More studies need to be done on finding the compatibility between the two scales.For lack of time and some error, the present researcher couldn’t do justice to the survey. Therefore it needs more research and study.


To sum up, we can see that environmental concern is a serious issue of present-day especially in a country like India. Many sociologists have researched environmental concerns in the world. This study was to see the concern of people about the environment. Globally Dunlap’s scale is used to measure environmental concern and in the context of India Chatterjee’s uses. The present researcher has used both the scale for measuring environmental concern in a local context of India, to get more confirmation. From the findings and analysis, it observes that the NEP scale can’t be used fully in the context of India as Chatterjee (2008) said. More studies to do with both the scales to get more confirmation.

Despite having a large sample size, it couldn’t do justice to the in-depth understanding because of lack of time and some error.


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