Environmental sociology research group was formed in 1998. This group develops social theory of transnational processes, investigates how global standards influence local practices. The group works in different areas of environmental sociology with the main focus on communities located in places with active development of natural resource extraction (minerals, oil and timber). Researchers try to find out how standards of international institutions (such as World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United Nations Conventions, Arctic Council and others) affect resource extracting industry and whether local communities benefit from application of these standards or not. Starting from 2012 the group carries out researches of Arctic countries with a special focus on application of the rights of indigenous peoples who live in places of oil production.
Within the framework of research projects, a comparative analysis dealing with ecological problems in Russia, the US, Western-European countries, Brazil, the Republic of South Africa, and China is carried out. High priority is given to development of communication and partnership with sociologists from the USA and Western Europe
The research projects are based on qualitative methodology, using interviews, participant observation, case studies and biographical method.
Research focus areas:
- Non-governmental management of natural resources, for example, forest inspection certification: examining the use of market mechanisms, forest inspection in particular, for the stimulation of social and ecological responsibility in forest management; examining the influence of certification on the lives of local communities.
- The sociology of transnational processes: researching globalization and its new conceptual apparatus (change in the concepts of space and time, Governance Generating Networks with nodes of design and sites of implementation).
- The role of Environmental NGOs in environmental politics: researching intersectoral interaction; ecological movements on different scales, from local to global; and citizen initiatives.
- Stable development: the study of the construction of ecologically stable communities and the introduction of stable development practices into society.
- Socially constructed understandings of nature: the study of historical and social constructs based on the interaction of humans with nature and the historical transformation of methods of interaction with the environment in Soviet and post-Soviet times.
Environmental studies contribute not only to sociological theory but also to the development of the ecological movement. This research group organises and holds ecological and scientific conferences, workshops and focus groups, initiates and carries out applied projects. Such activities promote the development of civil society and intersectoral cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection.
The research group was registered as a consultant to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC, Russia office). In 2008, FSC recognized the group of CISR consultants as the best in Russia. The group provides expertise and consultations in the area of forest certification for NGOs, business and local communities.
Over all years of CISR’s research activity in the field of environmental sociology, 54 collective and individual projects have been implemented; scores of conferences, seminars and round table discussions have been conducted; and 22 books and more than 140 articles have been published.