Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Harry F. Dahms

Committee Members

Damayanti Banerjee, Steven P. Dandaneau, Allen Dunn, R. Scott Frey, Paul Gellert

Abstract

The United States is an important global player in resource depletion, energy use, waste production, and other indicators that contribute to economic threats to humanity’s ecological future. Critical theory provides conceptual tools that are uniquely well-suited to more fully comprehend the links between economic progress and ecological deterioration. In key regards, the present situation is the continuation as well as amplification of political-economic, social and cultural features that took hold during the Cold War, and which demand rigorous sociological focus, scrutiny and analysis. To date, however, sociology has barely begun to assess the consequences that resulted from the Cold War for the condition in which modern societies find themselves in the early twenty-first century, and for their ability to meet both persistent and new challenges. The purpose of this dissertation is to elucidate the present predicament, especially with regard to the link between modern society and natural environment, by introducing the concept of “sociobiophysicality” as a promising tool to address related issues in ways that highlight the importance of sociology today. To do so, however, the specific importance of the tradition of critical theory—especially as represented in the writings of Lukàcs, Adorno, and Postone—for sociology in general, and with regard to the link between human-ecological transformation and contemporary ecological subjectivity in particular—must be reconstructed and made explicit.

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