Weber and the Environment

Weber and the Environment: Classical Foundations for a Post-Exemptionalist Sociology” (coauthored with Hannah Holleman, Foster listed first), American Journal of Sociology, vol. 117, no. 6 (May 2012), pp. 1625-1673. DOI: 10.1086/664617.

In the last two decades classical sociology, notably Marx, has been mined for environmental insights in the attempt to surmount the “human exemptionalism” of post–Second World War sociology. Weber, however, has remained an enigma in this respect. This article addresses Weber’s approach to the environment, including its significance for his interpretive-causal framework and his understanding of capitalism. For Weber, sociological meanings were often anchored in biophysical realities, including climate change, resource consumption, and energy scarcity, while environmental influences were refracted in complex ways within cultural reproduction. His work thus constitutes a crucial key to constructing a meaningful postexemptionalist sociology.

  • Winner of the 2013 Outstanding Publication Award of the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association.

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