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Sociology: A Brief Introduction, 4/e
Richard T. Schaefer, DePaul University

Communities And The Environment

Internet Exercises

  1. Chicago represents one of the largest urban areas in the United States. Don Brown's Chicago Daily Picture Page presents interesting photographs of life in "The Windy City.'' Direct your web browser to ( and reflect on the images presented. If you prefer, you may substitute photographs from your own or a nearby city discovered through a search engine such as Yahoo!.
    1. How would you describe the architecture and use of space as shown in the pictures? How does city architecture differ from rural constructions?
    2. Based on the images presented, can you see any examples of Herbert J. Gans's urban dweller types (cosmopolites, unmarried/childless people, ethnic villagers, the deprived, and/or the trapped) or places where these types might live?
    3. Do the pictures reflect any of the issues currently facing cities as described in this chapter? How so?
    4. What positive features of urban life do the pictures display?
    5. How do the images and themes of the pictures of Chicago or your own city compare to the images and themes presented in The Kentucky Photo File, which features photographs taken by John Perkins ( welcome)?
    6. How do these urban and rural photographs connect to the ideas in this chapter and to the discussion in Chapter 5 of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft?
  2. Sociologists always face a balancing act. While looking at social problems such as pollution from a macro-level, it is also important to focus on the way such problems touch the daily lives of families and individuals on a microscale. This chapter looks at the environmental crisis known as Love Canal from both these perspectives. To learn more about this event, visit Love Canal @ 20 by Fred Stoss and Carole Ann Fabian, provided online through the University at Buffalo, Science & Engineering Library.
    1. Where is Love Canal? When did this crisis occur?
    2. What was the cause of the environmental damage? How did the problem arise?
    3. What were the physical, emotional, social, and economic consequences of this crisis for the people who lived there?
    4. How would you describe the initial reaction of the local, state, and federal governments? What steps were taken later? How did the citizens of Love Canal react to the government's decisions?
    5. Who was Lois M. Gibbs and what role did she play in the Love Canal story?
    6. What is the current environmental status of the area?
    7. What aspects of these events would most likely be studied by conflict theorists? By functionalists? By interactionists?
  3. Your text discusses the environmental movement and history of activism. Log onto the Greenpeace website and take a virtual tour of this organization's worldwide environmental efforts.
    1. When did Greenpeace first form?
    2. What role have the Internet and computers played in the organization?
    3. What are the overall goals of Greenpeace? What are some of the environmental problems the organization is trying to alleviate and call attention to?
    4. What "Campaign Events'' does the organization sponsor? How do these events help Greenpeace achieve its goals?
    5. What images and themes do the photographs on the site present?
    6. Be sure to utilize the "Greenpeace Worldwide'' box. Choose at least three different nation-based sites to visit. What common concerns and environmental issues are shared by these three areas of the world? What problems or issues are unique to each area?
    7. Which environmental problem do you consider to be the most pressing? What can be done to resolve the problem?