Mark C.J. Stoddart – Feature Profile

We introduce you to:

Dr. Mark C.J. Stoddart, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland

How did you become interested in environmental sociology?

After moving to British Columbia in 1993, in the middle of the Clayoquot Sound conflict, I developed strong interests in environmental issues and in the social justice issues associated with globalization and natural resource use. Several years later, I took an environmental sociology course with Dr. Michael Gismondi at Athabasca University. The application of a sociological perspective to environmental issues was a perfect fit. This sociological approach to society-environment interaction was further developed through my graduate studies with Dr. William Carroll (University of Victoria) and Dr. David Tindall (University of British Columbia).

What are your research interests?

In broad terms, I am interested in three areas of environmental sociology: the eco-politics of outdoor sport and nature tourism; media representations of nature and environmental conflict; and the cultural dynamics of environmental movement participation. These interests have led me to examine skiing in British Columbia. This project resulted in a book, Making Meaning out of Mountains: The Political Ecology of Skiing, which is forthcoming with UBC Press, as well as articles in Nature and Culture, the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, and the Human Ecology Review (forthcoming). Since then, I’ve been expanded this work through a paired case study of environmental movement mobilization against ski resort development at Jumbo Pass, British Columbia, and mobilization against Off-Highway Vehicle Use in the Tobeatic Wilderness, Nova Scotia. This research combines mass media analysis, internet ethnography of environmental organization websites, and interviews with core movement actors, in order to better understand the social dynamics of media-work when environmental movements attempt to problematize outdoor sport. The first paper from this project is forthcoming in a special issue of Leisure Studies dedicated to leisure and the environment.

What research are you currently working on?

I am in the early stages of work on two different research projects. The first, “Puffins, kayaks and oil rigs: Shifting modes of society-environment interaction on the Newfoundland coast,” examines how social practices of nature tourism and outdoor recreation are reshaping cultural conceptions of the Newfoundland coastal environment. The project also pays particular attention to the tensions between tourism and the offshore oil industry, which offer divergent models for the society-environment interaction.   The second project, “Canadian News Media and Climate Change Discourse Networks, 1997-2010,” will add to our understanding of climate change policy-making by focusing on mass media discourse related to climate change, as well as the network of actors that gain access to media coverage of climate change policy debate.

What are some of your more interesting findings that you would like to share with us?

My research on skiing highlights the ecological ambiguities at the centre of a sport that brings people into contact with mountainous nature, while also producing ecological impacts through energy use and wildlife habitat displacement, as well as through its intimate connections to car and airplane travel.

What would you like to pursue with your research in the future?

My current research will keep me busy for the next few years. Looking ahead, I am interested in exploring the ways in which specific environmental campaigns (i.e. anti-sealing in Newfoundland or anti-whaling in Japan) work as barriers to the development of local environmental movements, or pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours, in societies that are targeted by the large-scale campaigns by groups such as Greenpeace.

What is your favourite place in Canada to spend time?

Since moving to Newfoundland, I love hiking the East Coast Trail. Though I no longer live in BC, I will always have very fond memories of hiking and backcountry skiing in the West Kootenay region.

Recent Publication

Stoddart, Mark C.J. and Howard Ramos (2013). Going local: Calls for local democracy and environmental governance at Jumbo Pass and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. Interface 5(1):229-252.

Stoddart, Mark C.J. (2011). “If We Wanted to be Environmentally Sustainable, We’d Take the Bus”: Skiing, Mobility and the Irony of Climate Change. Human Ecology Review 18(1): 19-29.   Visit Mark’s Website to learn more about his research.

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