Does social morphology improve environmental sociology? Origin and future of an old European sociological theory
sociology Ladyss-CNRS / University Paris X Nanterre, France
History and origins of environmental sociology are widely debated. It is generally US human ecology which is presented as the school of though which has provided the basis for contemporary environmental sociology. Classics´ reflections are also studied, and finally there is a consensus to limit the history of environmental sociology at these two origins. We would like to present another possible way of presenting historical sociological legitimization of environmental sociology, which starts from a European debate: social morphology.
Indeed, works of Durkheim, Mauss, and perhaps overall Halbwachs show a very specific attention on the substratum of society, inducing that this substratum might explain aspects of sociological phenomena. However this substratum is the key-object of social morphology and embraces in great part what we actually mean by environment.
Also considered by its geographical aspect, with Ratzel and the relation between societies and their soil; or by its spatial and formal aspect by Simmel, social morphology has rapidly been an acknowledged approach. Moreover, regarding the links between social morphology and human ecology, we have to underline their similarity: neo-orthodox human ecology as developed by Duncan or Schnore is supported by this acknowledgement of this European complementarity.
Then, in order to update this dynamic of approach of socio-environmental phenomena, we will define some ways of application of social morphology, confronting its elaboration of the social substratum of society and the actual relation between nature and society. Finally, in order to illustrate our reflection, we will present an example of a recent study of social morphology linked with the thematic of environmental justice.