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The Light-Green Society: Ecology and Technological Modernity in France, 1960-2000 Paperback – November 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0226044187 ISBN-10: 0226044181 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226044181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226044187
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a very readable academic work. The author places happenings in France in a broader context of environmentalism in general. . . . Even those with a cursory knowledge of modern French history will find this not to be a huge handicap."
(Christine Taft E-Streams)

"Bess's well-researched, elegantly written book should help put France back on the environmentalists' map. Bess documents how the French have made strides in improving environmental quality. . . . More interestingly, he argues that their humanistic traditions provide conceptual resources for an attractive, generally applicable model of responsible environmental management. . . . Future historians will want to turn to Bess's fine account of France's environmental choices to understand what went wrong--or right."

(Kerry H. Whiteside Environmental Values)

"[Bess] provides a novel paradigm through which historians can consider the evolution of environmental policies in France and other industrial countries. . . . One of the few English-language histories on the French environmental movement. As such, it is a must read."
(W. Brian Newsome Canadian Journal of History)

"This is an exciting and original examination of the knotty history of environmentalism and how it has permeated every aspect of French political and cultural life. . . . Bess's style is engaging and conversational. This is a tour de force of environmental history. . . . An outstanding scholarly contribution to the relationship between technology, culture, and the green environment."
(Rosemary Wakeman Technology & Society)

"Through its hitorical subject and methodology, The Light-Green Society demonstrates how nature and technology are critical to understanding the politics, culture, and society of modern France."
(Sara B. Pritchard French Politics, Culture & Society)

"Bess's philosophical training gives this perennial interrogation a rather Pascalian turn, offering a none-too threatening wager--this light-green France may well represent the shape of things to come."
(Pierre Claude Reynard Journal of Social History)

"A much-needed environmental history of France during the late twentieth century, this book covers the growth of the country's environmentalist organizations, as well as their effects on French consumers and policy-makers. . . . The best kind of social history."
(Edwar Ousselin French Review) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

The accelerating interpenetration of nature and culture is the hallmark of the new "light-green" social order that has emerged in postwar France, argues Michael Bess in this penetrating new history. On one hand, a preoccupation with natural qualities and equilibrium has increasingly infused France's economic and cultural life. On the other, human activities have laid an ever more potent and pervasive touch on the environment, whether through the intrusion of agriculture, industry, and urban growth, or through the much subtler and more well-intentioned efforts of ecological management.

The Light-Green Society limns sharply these trends over the last fifty years. The rise of environmentalism in the 1960s stemmed from a fervent desire to "save" wild nature-nature conceived as a qualitatively distinct domain, wholly separate from human designs and endeavors. And yet, Bess shows, after forty years of environmentalist agitation, much of it remarkably successful in achieving its aims, the old conception of nature as a "separate sphere" has become largely untenable. In the light-green society, where ecology and technological modernity continually flow together, a new hybrid vision of intermingled nature-culture has increasingly taken its place.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Spalart on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Prof. Bess demonstrates a friendly, vast and flawless knowledge of the French scene over the years, and gives a most stimulating discussion of how ecological thinking blended with every day life and with business, with some government influence. It thus moved away from somewhat revolutionary and anti-growth roots, towards a "light" or "soft" version in which people put some effort into a greener life but do not agree to give up much of their consumption, if any, and expect progress to continue in full. Observers understandably have very different feelings about this evolution, much like they do about left-right politics. This observation applies to most of Europe, and Western countries. I enjoyed every page, even though I had trouble understanding a few near the end, and have much admiration for this work, as I did for "Choices under Fire."
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed The Light-Green Society's wide-ranging approach. Bess paints a vivid and unique picture of France's environmental and technological culture, relates this picture to parallel developments in other industrialized countries, draws conclusions about the meaning and limitations of environmentalist thought and action up to the present, and projects these ideas into the future. Then he launches into a philosophical discussion of culture, nature, and what is truly at stake in environmentalist visions. Finally he even brings the rest of the universe into the sphere of nature/environment! It is an ambitious and rewarding work. And beautifully written, especially for a book that covers so many profound ideas.
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