IGNOU BSOE 143 Solved Assignment 2022-23

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IGNOU BSOE 143 Solved Assignment 2022-23

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Submission Date :

  • 31st March 2033 (if enrolled in the July 2033 Session)
  • 30th Sept, 2033 (if enrolled in the January 2033 session).

Answer the following Descriptive Category Questions in about 500 words each. Each question carries 20 marks in Assignment I.

Answer the following Middle Category Questions in about 250 words each. Each question carries 10 marks in Assignment II.

Answer the following Short Category Questions in about 100 words each. Each question carries 6 marks in Assignment III.

Assignment I

1. Trace the emergence of sub discipline of Environmental Sociology.

Environmental sociology is the study of interactions between societies and their natural environment. The field emphasizes the social factors that influence environmental resource management and cause environmental issues, the processes by which these environmental problems are socially constructed and define as social issues, and societal responses to these problems. Environmental sociology emerged as a subfield of sociology in the late 1970s in response to the emergence of the environmental movement in the 1960s. It represents a relatively new area of inquiry focusing on an extension of earlier sociology through inclusion of physical context as related to social factors.


Environmental sociology is typically defined as the sociological study of socio-environmental interactions, although this definition immediately presents the problem of integrating human cultures with the rest of the environment. Different aspects of human interaction with the natural environment are studied by environmental sociologists including population and demography, organizations and institutions, science and technology, health and illness, consumption and sustainability practices, culture and identity, and social inequality and environmental justice. Although the focus of the field is the relationship between society and environment in general, environmental sociologists typically place special emphasis on studying the social factors that cause environmental problems, the societal impacts of those problems, and efforts to solve the problems. In addition, considerable attention is paid to the social processes by which certain environmental conditions become socially defined as problems. Most research in environmental sociology examines contemporary societies.


Environmental sociology emerged as a coherent subfield of inquiry after the environmental movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. The works of William R. Catton, Jr. and Riley Dunlap, among others, challenged the constricted anthropocentrism of classical sociology. In the late 1970s, they called for a new holistic, or systems perspective. Since the 1970s, general sociology has noticeably transformed to include environmental forces in social explanations. Environmental sociology has now solidified as a respected, interdisciplinary field of study in academia.

Existential dualism

The duality of the human condition rests with cultural uniqueness and evolutionary traits. From one perspective, humans are embedded in the ecosphere and co-evolved alongside other species. Humans share the same basic ecological dependencies as other inhabitants of nature. From the other perspectives, humans are distinguished from other species because of their innovative capacities, distinct cultures and varied institutions. Human creations have the power to independently manipulate, destroy, and transcend the limits of the natural environment (Buttel and Humphrey, 2002: p. ,47). According to Buttel (2004), there are five major traditions in environmental sociology today: the treadmill of production and other eco-Marxisms, ecological modernization and other sociologies of environmental reform, cultural-environmental sociologies, neo-Malthusianisms, and the new ecological paradigm. In practice, this means five different theories of what to blame for environmental degradation, i.e., what to research or consider as important. These ideas are listed below in the order in which they were invented. Ideas that emerged later built on earlier ideas, and contradicted them.


Works such as Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” (1969) reformulated Malthusian thought about abstract population increases causing famines into a model of individual selfishness at larger scales causing degradation of common pool resources such as the air, water, the oceans, or general environmental conditions. Hardin offered privatization of resources or government regulation as solutions to environmental degradation caused by tragedy of the commons conditions. Many other sociologists shared this view of solutions well into the 1970s (see Ophuls). There have been many critiques of this view particularly political scientist Elinor Ostrom, or economists Amartya Sen and Ester Boserup. Even though much of mainstream journalism considers Malthusianism the only view of environmentalism, most sociologists would disagree with Malthusianism since social organizational issues of environmental degradation are more demonstrated to cause environmental problems than abstract population or selfishness per se. For examples of this critique, Ostrom in her book Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990) argues that instead of self-interest always causing degradation, it can sometimes motivate people to take care of their common property resources. To do this they must change the basic organizational rules of resource use. Her research provides evidence for sustainable resource management systems, around common pool resources that have lasted for centuries in some areas of the world.

New Ecological Paradigm

In the 1970s, the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) conception critiqued the claimed lack of human-environmental focus in the classical sociologists and the sociological priorities their followers created. This was critiqued as the Human Exceptionalism Paradigm (HEP). The HEP viewpoint claims that human-environmental relationships were unimportant sociologically because humans are ‘exempt’ from environmental forces via cultural change. This view was shaped by the leading Western worldview of the time and the desire for sociology to establish itself as an independent discipline against the then popular racist-biological environmental determinism where environment was all. In this HEP view, human dominance was felt to be justified by the uniqueness of culture, argued to be more adaptable than biological traits. Furthermore, culture also has the capacity to accumulate and innovate, making it capable of solving all natural problems. Therefore, as humans were not conceived of as governed by natural conditions, they were felt to have complete control of their own destiny. Any potential limitation posed by the natural world was felt to be surpassed using human ingenuity. Research proceeded accordingly without environmental analysis. In the 1970s, sociological scholars Riley Dunlap and William R. Catton, Jr. began recognizing the limits of what would be termed the Human Exemptionalism Paradigm. Catton and Dunlap (1978) suggested a new perspective that took environmental variables into full account. They coined a new theoretical outlook for sociology, the New Ecological Paradigm, with assumptions contrary to HEP.

2. Critically examine Radhakamal Mukherjee’s understanding of social ecology.

Urban Social Problems:

Mukerjee envisages an ameliorative approach to the problems of working class. The industrialization in India, which has been taking place during the last several decades, succeeded in bringing together people from diverse regions and languages. But, the living condi­tions of workers in the urban centres, such as Mumbai, Kanpur, Kolkata and Chennai, were adversely affected by slum life. In the early days of industrialization, urban slums gave rise to vices such as prostitution, gambling and crime. It was, therefore, necessary to bring about drastic changes in the lives of workers to improve their economic and moral conditions.

Today, many private industries and public sector units have been providing facilities for social welfare to their workers. Besides, the central and state governments have promulgated legislative acts, which are binding on the employers. However, unorganized workers (i.e., who are unemployed, or temporarily employed) continue to live in slums.

The rampant problems in the Indian slums at present are consumption of illicit liquor and drugs, crimes, and worsening housing conditions and civic facilities. Therefore, Mukerjee’s analysis of the working class is relevant even for the present industrial organization in India.

Social Ecology:

Harmonious development of man requires that he should live with other members of the community and also with nature or environment or ecology. Radhakamal Mukerjee’s contribution to the studies of what is called ‘social ecology’ is unparalleled. Social ecology, as a discipline, requires the cooperation of a member of sciences including social sciences.

The geological, geographical and biological factors work together to produce an ecological zone. Ecological conditions also conditioned by social, economic and political factors. Indeed, human or social ecology is the study of all aspects of reciprocal relations between man and his environment.

In his book, Regional Sociology (1926), Mukerjee explains the scope of human ecology “as a synoptic study of the balance of plant, animal and human communities, which are systems of correlated working parts in the organization of the region”. American pioneers in ecological studies did not give adequate attention to the factor of culture in their conception of ecological relations.

They viewed such relations as similar to those which take place among plants and animals. Mukerjee argued that ecological relations among human beings are largely similar with those among lower organisms. But, in case of human beings, cultural norms have a very important role. Human ecology highlights this fact.

In the formation of an ecologic unit like ‘region’ social habits, values and traditions become very important. Individuals having the same or similar values possess solidarity. The ecological standpoint in which man’s constant strivings, aspirations and ideals mingle silently with the ecological forces and processes. Social ecology stresses the ever complex give-and-take relationship between man and the region.

There is a definite link between ecology and society. The development of ecological zones is the outcome of a dynamic process that is the challenge of the environment and the response of the people who establish a settlement. Ecological balance is not achieved by a mechanical carving out of a territory and setting people therein.

Such an attempt weakens or destroys the social fabric. For example, in building industrial plants or constructing irrigation plants or constricting irrigation dams in India, very often, people of the concerned locations are moved to new settlements. It seriously affects community’s life of the people. As a people lives in an area, it develops a symbiotic relationship with the ecology or environment of the area. In the new situation it may fail to develop that kind of relationship with the surrounding.

Mukerjee’s ideas about social ecology advocated regional development. He stood for a balance between economic growth and ecological fitness. Traditional crafts and skills like weaving or engraving should be revamped for attaining economic growth of a region without any great damage to its ecology. Deforestation has created havoc. Long back Mukerjee cautioned his countrymen against it. He strongly advocated for conservation of forests and protection of ecological balance.

Mindless urbanization was also lamented by Mukerjee. From the ecological point of view he upheld the idea and process of urbanization. Urban development at the expense of the countryside should be kept in check. Agriculture should be diversified and industries should be decentralized.

Mukerjee notices with concern that (i) overgrazing, (ii) improvident destruction of trees and scrubs, and (iii) faulty method of cultivation brings about a serious imbalance in the biophysical constitution of the entire region. It seriously impairs nature’s cycle.

Removal of vegetation brings about a chain of unfavourable reactions such as:

(1) Denudation of the top soil,

(2) Fall in the underground water level,

(3) Diminution of rainfall,

(4) Increase of aridity, and

(5) Acceleration of ‘river’, sheet or gully and wind erosion. These have led to serious and continuous agricul­tural deterioration.

Industrial civilization, because of its mindless exploitation of natural resources, finds its “security threatened due to the exhaustion of coal and petroleum” and the diminishing supply of minerals and vitamins, which cannot be synthetically manufac­tured. The importance of ecological values can hardly be overemphasized even in the industrial society.

Of course, there is no need for loss of nerves. Man’s success in his adaptation to the geographical environment rests on certain ideal values, which have their roots in ecological values. But it is necessary that these values should “have reached the level of standards of moral behaviour”.


It may be viewed from the above analysis that Radhakamal Mukerjee advocated a methodology reflecting the organic interde­pendence between the economic sphere and the entire socio-historical cultural order [see, e.g., A General Theory of Society (1956); The Philosophy of Social Sciences (1968)]. He proposed, therefore, a trans disciplinary approach to social research at a time when some social scientists in India were considering the need for interdisciplinary research.

Mukerjee has pioneered three approaches to social science for which he would always be remembered:

1. Conceiving economics as a specialization, and not as a disci­pline, in the realm of social science.

2. Introducing the ‘institutional approach’ to planning which should not be regarded as the exclusive prerogative of the economists but should be treated under the rubric of social science.

3. Raising the sight of appraisal of social reality from the uni-disciplinary or interdisciplinary outlook of the social scien­tists to a trans disciplinary perspective, bearing in mind the common acceptance of the term ‘social sciences’ comprising various ‘disciplines’ like economics, political science, psychology, and sociology and so on.

Mukerjee started his career as an economist who, in those days, defined the framework of reference to the ‘discipline’ as the relation between man and his exploitation of the natural resources in succes­sively compounded forms.

At that time, the Marxists had raised the issue, but they were not seriously considered by the establishment of economics. Mukerjee was not a Marxist, but he clearly conceived economics as dealing with the relationship among humans with respect to the exploitation of natural resources and the consequent production and appropriation of material goods and services.

In his voluminous writing in this context, Mukerjee examined the nexus of human relationships in the totality of life and living. But that was transcending the boundary of economics as a disci­pline, which he regarded as a specialization within the unitary discipline of social science. This viewpoint was not acceptable to the contemporaneous mandarins in the ‘economic’ science; nor was Mukerjee acceptable to the contemporaneous mandarins of sociology or any other social science ‘discipline’. Therefore, Mukerjee became a bratya, a marginal man in the realm of social science.

Assignment II

3. Examine the nature of Beej Bachao Andolan movements in India
4. What do you understand by the term ecofeminism?
5. How is material desires socially constructed? Explain with examples

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Assignment III

6. Ecological justice
7. Medha Patkar
8. Global warming
9. Water pollution
10. Treadmill of production

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IGNOU BSOE 143 Solved Assignment 2022-23 Download Free  Before attempting the assignment, please read the following instructions carefully.

  1. Read the detailed instructions about the assignment given in the Handbook and Programme Guide.
  2. Write your enrolment number, name, full address and date on the top right corner of the first page of your response sheet(s).
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