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The Social Construction of Nature

The Social Construction of Nature
A Sociology of Ecological Enlightenment

First Edition
  • Klaus Eder - Humboldt University, Berlin/European University Institute, Florence

October 1996 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Demonstrating that our ideas of nature are culturally determined, The Social Construction of Nature critically examines the connection between nature and culture. Author Klaus Eder focuses on the relationship between modern, industrial societies and discusses how they have become increasingly violent and destructive. He questions the view of nature as an object while carefully analyzing symbolism, ritual, and taboo. Showing how nature is socially constructed, the work presents a critique of Marx and Durkheim while offering a radical reinterpretation of the intersection among society, culture, and nature. This original work concludes with an examination of the symbolic order of society and the role of religion in modern culture. Using a culturalist interpretation, Eder explains how environmentalism, and the social construction of nature, are a key indexes of social order and structure. The Social Construction of Nature is a unique agenda-setting interpretation of nature and ecology that will become the essential reference in any debate on environmental politics and sociology.

The Theoretical Construction of Nature
A Critique of Naturalistic Theories of Evolution

The Evolution of the Societal Relationship to Nature as a Learning Process?
An Ecological Critique of Practical Reason

Culinary Morality
A Comparative Analysis of Food Taboos

Carnivorous and Vegetarian Culture
Two Models of the Symbolic Organization of Society

The Modern Discourse on What To Eat
A Sociology of the Natural Foods Movement

Framing and Communicating Nature
The Political Transformation of Modern Environmentalism

The Politics of Nature
A New Politics?


`Klaus Eder affords us with a rare, genuinely social consructionist perspective on nature. He must be credited, and his book praised, on numerous grounds. First and foremost, he retrieves, develops and introduces to a German and Anglo-Saxon readership what is probably to this day the most comprehensive and thoroughly social constructionist framework to apprehend human/nature relationships. The author also provides a sound account of food taboos across different cultures, including our own, thereby acting as a precursor to what is known as `symmetrical anthropology' This book is an important contribution to the social sciences in general' - British Journal of Sociology

`The Social Construction of Nature argues that modernity's characteristic pride in dominating nature has caused us to forget that we live in a culture which forces us into a self-destructive relationship with nature. The author shows how this is reflected in our eating practices: carnivorous culture is seen as an extension of domination going back to Greek roots, while the emerging vegetarian culture is based on the idea of harmony with nature. In this context the opposite of the natural foods movements is the industrial exploitation of nature. The final part claims that contemporary environmentalism is a turning point in the cultural evolution of modernity' - Scientific and Medical Network Journal

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