Study Questions

Schnaiberg and Gould, Chapter 5


(1)  What is an institution?  What is the role of institutions vis a vis the treadmill of production?


(2)  Why do some people claim that modern societies are “environmentalist?”  What can we conclude from a closer look at the evidence?  Provide evidence and explanations that support these conclusions.


(3)  On page 97, Schaniberg & Gould claim “what recent history reveals in industrial societies is a very high ratio of treadmill-to-environmental research and teaching.”  What do they mean by this statement?


(4)  Schnaiberg & Gould claim that individuals are constrained by the rules, roles and expectations of social institutions, and that these tend to encourage individuals to adopt the values and practices associated with the treadmill of production much more than environmental values and practices.  Provide examples of how this process operates within (a) families, (b) the mass media, and (c) workplaces.


(5)  What is meant by “green” advertising (sometimes referred to as “greenwashing”)?  Why do companies engage in “green” advertising?  Does “green” advertising more accurately represent an environmentalist ethic, or the ethic of the treadmill of production?  Why?


(6)  What is the relationship between form of political organization, the treadmill of production, and ecological disorganization?  Are some political systems “greener” than others?  What role do economic systems play in this scenario?


(7)  What role do government institutions play in sustaining and promoting the treadmill of production?  Provide concrete examples of how this relationship operates.