Environmental Volunteers Essay

2104 Words 8 Pages
How humans interact with the natural environment is becoming one of the most pervasive issues of the modern world. The effects that human development has had on the natural environment, are only recently beginning to be realised, and has led some scholars to call for the current geological epoch to be termed the “Anthropocene”, due to the great effect human populations have had on the natural environment (Steffen et al. 2011: 843). There has also been a rise in environmentalist ideologies and environmentalist organisations, based on the increasingly popular notion that human interactions with the natural environment need to be reformulated. I have always been interested in environmental issues, and my time spent studying anthropology
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It would be a relatively safe assumption to say that environmental volunteers have a high level of concern for the natural environment, but how this concern is formulated and what ideas and perceptions it is based on may not be so obvious, and I believe that it is an interesting topic to research from an anthropological standpoint. This research proposal will outline the basis for my research concerning ideas and perceptions of the natural environment among environmental volunteers, who participate in various environmental volunteering activities across Scotland. I will be using qualitative methods to gain an in-depth understanding of how environmental volunteers define, relate to and think about the natural environment and how these ideas and perceptions relate to their role as environmental volunteers. There are a number of environmental volunteer groups across Scotland, ranging from local community based groups, to national organisations, which offer a wide range of environmental volunteer opportunities. These opportunities include activities such as restoring natural landscapes or fauna, monitoring wildlife, combating human erosion, and many other activities that involve trying to benefit the natural …show more content…
Many renowned anthropological theorists have offered explanations for how human behaviour can be related to the environmental conditions it is found in, or how specific ecological conditions engender specific types of cultural forms. Examples include Steward (1955) who posited a multi-evolutionary framework for understanding how “cultural cores” are developed though humans successively adapting to environmental conditions, White (1959) posited a linear evolutionary framework for understanding how culture, in the universal sense, develops in relation to the ability to capture and use energy, while Harris (1979) offered a materialist definition for culture, arguing that all cultural forms can be explained by environmental conditions. However, this research proposal is concerned with how people, specifically environmental volunteers, perceive and think about the natural environment. Lamb (1996) discussed the ambiguity of the term “nature” and how it has been defined in various, sometimes contradictory ways. She labels three major conflicts in theories of environmental ethics: objective vs subjective, conservation vs. preservation, and sustainability vs. ecology (ibid: 476). She describes how these conflicts are not the results of competing theories having different desired ends, but that it is their incapability to come to a consensus on the definition of nature

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