1st Edition

Sociology and Human Ecology Complexity and Post-Humanist Perspectives

By John A. Smith, Chris Jenks Copyright 2018
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    Traditionally, Sociology has identified its subject matter as a distinct set – social phenomena – that can be taken as quite different and largely disconnected from potentially relevant disciplines such as Psychology, Economics or Planetary Ecology.

    Within Sociology and Human Ecology, Smith and Jenks argue that this position is no longer sustainable. Indeed, exhorting the reader to confront human ecology and its relation to the physical and biological environments, Smith and Jenks suggest that the development of understanding with regards to the position occupied by the social requires, in turn, an extension of the component disciplines and methodologies of a ‘new’ human socio-ecology.

    Aiming to evoke critical change to the possibility, status and range of the social sciences whilst also offering essential grounding for inter-disciplinary engagement, Sociology and Human Ecology will appeal to postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in fields such as Social Theory, Socio-Biology and Ecological Economics.


    Chapter 1. Ontology from the perspective of complexity theory: auto-eco-organisation

    Attention and ignorance

    The dual character of ignorance: the standpoint of irony

    The dual character of ignorance: pragmatism

    The plurality of ignorance and ‘complexity’

    Prigogine and systems far-from equilibrium

    Morin: restricted and general complexity

    Kauffmann and ‘the next adjacent possible’

    Per Bak: Self-Organised Criticality

    Conclusions and implications.

    Post-script and transition: an informational turn

    Chapter 2 The strengths and limitations of the concept of social construction

    Marxism(s) and the Economy

    Durkheim, organic solidarity and sui generic social phenomena.

    The Normal & the Pathological

    Weber, authority and power.

    Weber and the Protestant Ethic

    Foucault and post-structuralism

    Reconciling Critical Realism and Social Construction

    The Saussurean legacy

    Conclusions and implications

    Chapter 3. The ontological status of the living: a renewed foundation for epistemology and representation

    Hoffmeyer and semiotic causality

    Deely and biosemiotics

    UexKull and the concept of the Umwelt

    Autopoiesis and/or Dissipative Systems

    Embodied cognition: a basic introduction

    The Embodied Conceptualisation Hypothesis

    The Replacement Hypothesis

    The Constitution Hypothesis

    J. and E. Gibson: a radical ecology of perceptual learning and development

    Summary and extensions

    Dennett: sufficiency, economy, distribution.

    Conclusion, postscript and transition.

    Chapter 4 Human cognition and development

    The Standard Social Science Model (SSSM)

    Evolutionary psychology

    The Gibsons revisited: the ecology of perception and human development

    Affordances reconsidered in the context of human development

    Konnor et al: structures of human childhood

    Infancy and altriciality

    Puberty and adolescence

    Affect theory: emotion and the realisation of the social

    Kegan: ‘evolutionary balances’ and ‘orders of consciousness’.

    Concluding comments: Stacey on Elias vs Freud

    Chapter 5 The social, structure and the emotions

    The sociological heritage

    Forms of solidarity: Durkheim, Chance, TenHouten

    Forms of solidarity: Douglas and Thompson

    Anthropology and social theory (our emphasis) or

    What do we mean by post-humanism?

    A brief note on Sewell

    Concluding remarks

    Chapter 6 The challenge of ecological economics

    A question of cycles and worldviews: Thompson, markets and hierarchies

    ‘Our’ propositions

    Proposed counter-actions

    Alternative voices

    Ecological economics: an evaluation and consequences for critical theory

    Chapter 7 Philosophy and Method for an Ecological-Political Economy

    Imperative 1: A General Ontology as/and energy-driven auto-eco-organisation

    Imperative 2. A general epistemology and/as auto-exo-reference

    Imperative 3. Revisit the specific question of scale and grain

    Imperative 3. Revisit the specific question of scale and grain

    Imperative 3. Revisit the specific question of scale and grain

    Imperative 4. The identification of actants and boundaries: qualitative aspects of scale and organisation

    Imperative 5. Reconsider actants, scale and constraints/as interacting subject matter(s)

    Imperative 6: Reconsider the ethics and politics of complexity. Who acts? Persistence and Darwinism. Ethics for whom?

    Imperative 7: What are the demands of complexity and human ecology on openness, democracy, exemplars of reflexive inquiry?



    John A. Smith is a Principal Lecturer and Research Lead in the Department of Education & Community Studies at the University of Greenwich, UK

    Chris Jenks is a Sociologist, and has previously occupied the positions of Vice Chancellor and Principal of Brunel University London; and Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths College University of London, UK