A current debate on environmental sociology involves how the subdiscipline should conceptualise and investigate the environment and whether it should be prescriptive and deliver policy recommendations. Taking this debate as a point of departure this article discusses the current and future role of sociology in a globalised world. It discusses how environmental sociology in the US and Europe differ in their understandings of sociology’s contribution to the study of the environment. Particular stress is placed on how these two regions differ with respect to their use of the tradition of sociological thought, views on what constitutes the environment and ways of institutionalising environmental sociology as a sociological field. In conclusion, the question is raised of whether current versions of environmental sociology are appropriate for analysing a globalised world environment; or whether environmental sociology’s strong roots in European and US cultures make it less relevant when facing an increasingly globalised world. Finally, the article proposes some new rules for a global environmental sociology and describes some of their possible implications for the sociological study of climate change.
- ecological modernization