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Contested Natures

Contested Natures

May 1998 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Demonstrating that all notions of nature are inextricably entangled in different forms of social life, the text elaborates the many ways in which the apparently natural world has been produced from within particular social practices. These are analyzed in terms of different senses, different times and the production of distinct spaces, including the local, the national and the global.

The authors emphasize the importance of cultural understandings of the physical world, highlighting the ways in which these have been routinely misunderstood by academic and policy discourses. They show that popular conceptions of, and attitudes to, nature are often contradictory and that there are no simple ways of prevailing upon people to `save the environment'.

Nature and Society
A Historical Context

A Sociology of Environmental Knowledges
Cultural Readings of Nature
Environmental Bads
Environmentalism and Society
Postwar Reconstruction and Rational Nature
To Nature as Environment
Inventing British Environmentalism
Post-Rio Environmentalism
The Polling Culture and the Environment
A Relational Framework
Rhetoric, Identity and Nature

Globalization, Agency and Trust

Nature, Space and Vision
Nature and the Other Senses
The Social Sciences and Time
Different Times in and of Nature
Memories of Nature
Producing Countryside Spaces
Landscapes of Discipline
The Countryside and Ambivalence
Spatial Practices in the Countryside
Sustainability as New Public Discourse
Sustainability Discourse and Daily Practice
Framing Environmental Concerns
Mad Cows
Globalizing the Nation
Governing Nature

`This book is vigorously written and bursting with ideas, indeed, mirroring the book's own conclusions about the post-modern world it barely manages to govern its own content. Although it 'seeks to show that there is no singualr 'nature' as such, only by a diversity of contested of contested natures' (p.1), by the end it is clear we are really dealing with the problem of 'the environment', of a 'globable nature', the 'global environment', 'the planet', 'the globe' (pp. 274-7)' - British Journal of Sociology

`This is a valubale collation and multi-disciplinary critical review of numerous concepts, positions and contexts surrounding different knowledges - elite, academic, popular - concerning nature. Ratmond Williams famously refers to nature, along with culture, as the most difficult words in the English language for which to establish `meaning' (Keywords, Fontana, 1976). Macnaghten and Urry's book does justice to this difficulty in the complexity it reveals' - Journal of Rural Studies

`Contested Natures is an invaluable asset for a student of environmental politics and of human-nature relations. Its lucid and clear writing style combines with good summary introductions and conclusions to provide a clear and well-written introduction to the historiography of human-nature relations in the west' - Environmental Politics

`This book gives us a firm idea of what the sociology of another modernity is about. Finally we go beyond a reductionist view of nature. Quite astonishing: sociology of the environment becomes exciting' - Ulrich Beck, University of Munich

`Contested Natures is a path-breaking sociological analysis that provides a theoretical foundation to the practice of environmentalists around the world. It will be debated for years to come' - Manuel Castells, University of California, Berkeley

`A panoramic approach to our society's approach to nature, this book is a superb analysis of many of our modern discontents with our treatment of the natural environment. It deserves to become a classic' - Howard Newby, Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton

`Steadfastly aligning their book within a social constructionist view of nature, the authors of Contested Nature set out to depict a sociology of the environment in which 'strictly speaking there is no such thing a natuture, only natures'. A series of almost stand-alone chapters each reveal different aspects of these ( contested ) natures...Individually the chapters are thorough and well-researched, and will provide a good resource for students and teachers alike..the book covers a great deal of ground and its support for Tim Ingold's idea of `dwellingness' marks it out as an important resource in debates about nature(s) within social science' - The Geographical Journal

` This is, in many ways, an extraordinary and groundbreaking book. Of the currently available social scientific understandings of the environmental problem (more accurately, problems) it certainly has been seen as one of the most innovatory and path breaking. Furthermore, its excellence is a product of combining radically new theoretical insights with detailed empirical work' - Regional Studies

` To cut the bottom-line, this book is a "must read." The endorsements on the book cover, which in this case do not mislead, describe it as a potential classic in the sociology of the environment. But, while centrally based in the discipline of sociology, the book deserves a wider readership for its insights into the relationship between nature and society....Through a mix of literature review and original research findings, MacNaghten and Urry present an unfolding analysis of the social construction of the environment (as opposed to more purely biological) dimensions of "nature"....Overall, this is a broad ranging analysis of how contested natures arise. It is well written, full of detail and interesting throughout'

`There is good and useful material in this book. It should stimulate anyone interested in how people construe the environment, act within it or seek to guide the actions of others. And after all, environmentalism is important politically and socially, and pervaded many aspects of the lives of the people we study. This book is a useful sketch of environmentalism as a political and cultural fact of life in England' - JRAI

". . .a rich discussion of the ways in which nature and the environment are constituted in specific social practices. . .a subtle, textured account of how natures are constructed, experienced, understood, and acted upon." 

Bruce Braun
University of Minnesota

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