Chapter 14 Study Questions & Exercises

The Environment

Study Questions

  1. What are the main tenets of environmental sociology?
  1. How can sociology help in the assessment of environmental research? Make reference to the issues of operational definitions and vested interests in your answer.
  1. What is social ecology and how can it be used to understand environmental pollution? Make specific reference to one example discussed in your textbook.
  1. How do “race” and class intersect with environmental issues? Use the example of Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria or Grassy Narrows in Ontario to illustrate your arguments.
  1. Through the lens of ‘discourse’ explain how the ‘scientific mercenaries’ tried to persuade the public of the absence of any harm (in the tobacco project) in smoking cigarettes in the fifties.
  1. Anastasia Shkilnyk’s investigation of mercury pollution in Grassy Narrows on behalf of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was problematic. Comment.
  1. How have the China Price and China’s manufacturing success affected people in China and in Canada?
  1. With regard to China price both China and the West are to blame. Discuss.

Exploration and Discussion Exercises

  1. Research Monsanto Corporation’s patenting of life forms and seed production. Use official materials obtained from Monsanto’s website and materials as well as evidence from those opposed to Monsanto’s practices such as Vandana Shiva, as sources.

    What are the different sources’ arguments? Are they equally convincing? Why or why not? Who do you believe and why? Has your own life been positively or negatively affected by Monsanto’s practices? How have others’ lives been affected?
  1. Beginning with the stories of Fort Chipewyan and Grassy Narrows, investigate other claims of environmental pollution and degradation resulting in increased health problems and death rates for Indigenous communities.

    What do the stories have in common? Who are the vested interests in the cases? How were the cases resolved, if they were? Who, if anyone, was satisfied with the outcome? How did the media portray the issue, if they covered it? If not, why do you think they made this decision?
  1. Watch the movie “The Insider” (starring Russell Crowe). Write a review in terms of the Tobacco Project” and the vested interests.