Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 November 2020
This chapter examines selected materialist frameworks that have guided research in environmental sociology over the last four decades. In doing so, we elaborate on approaches that have brought questions about the relationship between political-economic and ecological processes to the fore. We consider the significance of adopting a materialist orientation when conducting sociological research in relation to other more social constructionist-oriented approaches. The chapter provides a brief overview of some well-known theories in environmental sociology that fall broadly within a materialist framework and are strongly influenced by the Marxist tradition: treadmill of production, second contradiction of capitalism, social metabolism, critical human ecology, and tragedy of the commodity. These approaches have theorized on the ways in which capitalism, or the capital system, has played a major role in shaping particular kinds of socio-ecological processes.