Sociological Approaches to Culture and Anthropocentrism


Dear tree,

It is regretted that the relationship between you, the trees, and us humans is existent on the master-object association. As it is, human beings are continuously cutting down members of your generation. Indeed, many of us are motivated by economic factors to obtain wood from the sapling and carve them into timber planking. Unfortunate to you, the trees, the lumber obtained are sent to the logging industries, which are later, after processing, sold to carpenters to make furniture. I can attribute our dwindling relationship to humanity’s cultural history and the solution to repair the association that existed before.

Cultural History Behind Strained Relationship between Human and Natural World

As an aspect of the human cultural-historical idea, the industrial revolution has had diversified impacts on the natural world. When rigorous farming and manufacturing activities increased, people started clearing forests to pave the way for the establishment of new industries and arable lands (Stearns, 2020). Wanton destruction of the trees became even more profound with the change to mass production of industrialized goods (Stearns, 2020). Further, human beings started engaging in rapid misuse of the natural environment and exploiting all the resources at their disposal, including the trees. The onset of the industrial revolution in history marked the beginning of the poor relationship between humans and the natural world.

Besides the industrial and agricultural revolutions, colonization is a historical factor that has led to a severed relationship between us human beings and you, the trees. The European existence in North America during colonization stimulated numerous negative transformations in the environment. The European suggestion of owning land as private property as opposed to the Wampanoag’sWampanoag’s understanding of territorial use. Johnson (2014) asserts, “like many Native American tribes, for example, the Wampanoag traditionally viewed land as part of nature and not something that people could own” (p. 49). The Wampanoag community did not regard personal possession of land; instead, they perceived land as an asset to be held in common in the interest of the community as a whole. Johnson (2014) states that they could live in it, farm it, hunt on it, worship it, and admire its beauty, but they could not treat it as property” (p. 49). After purchasing the land from the locals, however, the colonizers set up farming fields with fences around them as a means of clearly showing that the properties they had acquired belonged exclusively to them. In brief, the land ownership system was interfered with, and individualism was entrenched with colonialism.

Additionally, environmental degradation has been accentuated by the Judeo-Christian tradition, which further approved anthropocentrism. The Bible teaches that God instructed humans to be fecund, breed, refill and conquer the earth, and have supremacy over the fish, birds, and over everything that moves on the universe (Kimmerer, 2016). It is this worldview that those who propagate environmental degradation peg their arguments on. In particular, what people do to their environment depends on what they think of themselves regarding things that exist in their surroundings. Therefore, human ecology is strongly conditioned by the beliefs about nature and fate, the factors well explained by religion. Since its inception, Judeo-Christian has worked as a mirror through which to analyze the relationships between humans and the surrounding. The results of exploitation and hierarchical statuses of the environmental factors are evident from the Genesis creation stories and the entire notion of stewardship. The ability and right to control other creations has irked a superiority attitude in human beings and therefore being able to create a poor relationship between humans and the natural world negatively.

Ideas of the Relationship Repair

The deteriorating relationship between humans and you, the trees can be salvaged for the mutual benefits of both of us. The first step in restoring the excellent association between us is debunking the notion that you, the trees, and plants in the ecological systems are mere objects and not subjects to us as humans. Kimmerer (2016) asserted that “Plants were thought of as objects rather than being thought of as subjects” (p. 1). When the plants are studied as subjects, then there is harmonious coexistence between the study of the natural world and its significance to humanity.

Secondly, it is of utmost value to repair the poor interconnection betwixt the people and the fauna by employing both the scientific and the traditional methods of learning the surroundings. The methods complement one another as scientific methods boost observational skills while oral traditions offer the skills of listening and language. Kimmerer (2016) explains that “science brings us to an intense kind of attention that science allows us to bring to the natural world, and that kind of attention also includes ways of seeing, quite literally, through other lenses” (p. 4). She adds that “in indigenous ways of knowing, we say that we know a thing when we employ our physical senses, intellect, and also our intuitive ways of knowing” (p. 5). Undeniably, the bias that might come up when one method of studying nature is employed is undoubtedly reduced.

Advocating for environmental sustainability programs through the mobilization of scientific and traditional skills in the field of the natural world is a proposal to mend the relationship between you and us, the trees. Kimmerer (2016) argues that “what they’re they’re trying to do at the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment is to indigenize, science education within the academy” (p. 7). Different professionals in environmental studies are trained on multiple ways of understanding the environmental relevance of the natural world to human life. The ecological strategies restore the poor human and ecological relationship.


In summary, the deteriorating human-tree correlation can be explained as a result of cultural history. However, the relationship can be restored and environmental degradation reduced. Industrial and the agricultural revolution have led to the fading relationship between you, the trees, and humans. Furthermore, colonization of North America by the Englishmen brought about negative beliefs and perceptions about land ownership, which later led to individualism and capitalist tendencies. Environmental degradation has been propelled further by the Judeo-Christian worldview, especially in the early years.

Nonetheless, there exists a raft of measures to restore the relationship between the human and the natural world. The measures include, among others, incorporating traditional knowledge and scientific theory in creating environmental sustainability. Inarguably, there is historical evidence to explain the occurrence of poor human and ecological relationships in addition to measures aimed at protecting the environment.


Person of Sociology.


Johnson, A. (2014). The forest and the trees (3rd ed.). Temple University Press.

Kimmerer, R. (2016). The intelligence of plants. On Being [Podcast].

Stearns, P. (2020). The industrial revolution in world history (5th ed.). Routledge.