Nature & Sociology – new book by Tim Newton

Nature and Sociology. London: Routledge. August 2007: 212pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-366847 (hardback, £65); ISBN: 978-0-415-36683-0 (paperback, £22.99)

Nature has become increasingly central to social thinking. From the social implications of environmental degradation to the plethora of issues raised by biotechnology, neuroscience, the body and health, the ‘natural’ world is increasingly difficult to ignore for sociologists and social scientists. In addition to a wide-ranging treatment of this field, this ground-breaking text presents fresh perspectives that challenge the way we think about the relationship between ‘time’, ‘nature’ and ‘society’.

Although the natural and social are inevitably intertwined, Tim Newton argues that we should be open to the possibility of difference between our perception of the natural and social world. In so doing, he contests accepted tenets, such as an overriding need for anti-dualism, and underscores the limitations of existing approaches such as social constructionism, critical realism and actor-network theory. In addition, he engages with the burgeoning debates on new genetics and neuroscience, takes the material world and the biological body seriously, and addresses the issues of interdisciplinarity that are likely to arise in any longer term attempt to work across the social and natural world.

In his thought-provoking discussion, Newton draws especially on the work of Norbert Elias. Newton argues that Elias’s work on symbolisation and temporality remains central to understanding the interrelation between the natural and social domain. In addition to detailed examination of Elias’s thought, Nature and Sociology pays particular attention to Ian Hacking’s study of ‘interactive and indifferent kinds’, as well as the Spinozist discussion found amongst writers such as Damasio, Connolly, Ricoeur and Changeux. Working across these debates, Nature and Sociology presents a new approach to understanding the relation between the ‘nature’ and ‘society’, and the natural and social sciences. At the same time, it draws attention to the politics of nature, including environmental degradation; health, emotion and the politics of the body; and the dystopian anxieties concerning ‘new genetics’ and genomics.

Order form 


1. Recovering Nature
Introduction; The Politics of Nature; Environmental Degradation; Health and the Body; Gender and Prenatal Sex Selection; A Cause Celebre; Book Structure

2. Knowing Nature
Taking Nature Seriously – the Realist critique; Retort and Counter-Retort; Nature and Culture; Crossing the Great Divide; Conclusion

3. Beyond Anti-dualism
The Metanarrative of Anti-Dualism?; Different Kinds (Hacking); Time and Nature; Conclusion
4. Time
Differentiating Natural and Social Time; Relative Specificity; Flux and Constancy; Social Flux and Constancy?; Conclusion

5. Language and Technology
Symbol Emancipation; Elias and Hacking; Sands of Time; Technolinguistics; Conclusion

6. Temporality and Realism
Temporality and Critical Realism; Drawing the Line – Laws, Tendencies and Recipes; Social Structure and Endurance; Temporality and the Sociology of Nature; Parallel Worlds; Conclusion.

7. Genomics
Spectacle; King Gene; Biopostmodernism?; Genomics and Constancy; Genomic Foundations?; Our Dystopian Future?; Conclusion

8. Transgression
Cautionary Tales; Engaging Life Science – Tactical Co-option; Beyond the Ethereal and the Elusive – Towards the Transgressive Corporeal; Moving from the Social to the Biological Body; Conclusion.

9. Neurological Adventures
Neurosocial Parallelism; Interdisciplinary Manoeuvres; Beyond Science Wars?; Conclusion

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3 Responses to Nature & Sociology – new book by Tim Newton

  1. Tim Newton says:

    To Laura Blaha
    This post may be a little late but I hope you pick it up. I am afraid the book has not been translated into Spanish but it should be available in Ireland. It was published on 2nd August 2007 by Routledge.

    Tim Newton

    • Eleonora says:

      Dear professor Newton,
      my name is Eleonora, I’m a PhD student at the University of Turin (Italy) and I tried to contact you ( about ten days ago, but I don’t know if that address is still operative. I would like to talk to you about my research project and the opportunity to spend a couple of months in England to conduct my research. Hope you’ll read this message and to hear from you soon.
      Thank you

      Eleonora Salina (

  2. laura says:

    Hi, I would like to know 2 things about “Nature and Society” by Tim Newton, is it translated into Spanish? if it’s not I could do it, because I need a book for my thesis and this book seems very interesting; and another question is if I can find it in Ireland.
    thnaks, Laura Blaha

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