环境社会学是更广泛学科的一个子领域，研究者和理论家关注的是社会与环境之间的关系。该子领域在20世纪60年代的环境运动之后形成。气候变化可以说是当今环境社会学家最重要的研究课题。社会学家研究气候变化的人类，经济和政治原因，并研究气候变化对社会生活的许多方面的影响，如行为，文化，价值观以及经历其影响的人群的经济健康状况。在这个子领域，社会学家可能会研究法律，政治和经济等具体制度和结构，以及它们与环境条件的关系;以及集体行为和环境条件之间的关系，例如废物处理和回收的环境影响。重要的是，环境社会学家还研究环境条件如何影响人们的日常生活，经济生活和公共健康。政治，法律和公共政策以及这些与环境条件和问题的关系也是环境社会学家关注的领域。作为塑造公司和个人行为的机构和结构，它们对环境产生间接影响。专注于这些领域的社会学家调查的主题包括执行排放和污染法律的程度和方式;人们如何集体行动塑造它们;以及可能导致或阻止他们这样做的权力形式。气候变化社会学方法的核心是研究经济与环境之间的关系。该子领域的一个关键分析焦点是资本主义经济 – 一个以持续增长为前提的 – 对环境的特殊影响。研究这种关系的环境社会学家可能会关注自然资源在生产过程中的消费，以及旨在可持续的生产方法和资源回收等方面的影响。能源与环境之间的关系是当今环境社会学家的另一个重要课题。这种关系与前面列出的两个密切相关，因为化石燃料向电力工业的燃烧被气候科学家认为是全球变暖和气候变化的主要驱动因素。一些关注能源的环境社会学家研究不同人群对能源使用及其影响的看法，以及他们的行为如何与这些想法联系起来;他们可能研究能源政策塑造行为和结果的方式。环境社会学家关注的另一个重要领域是不平等与环境之间的关系。大量研究表明，收入，种族和性别不平等使得经历这些不平等的人群更容易遭受污染，接近废物和无法获得自然资源等负面环境结果。许多环境社会学家研究社会行为与环境之间的关系。在这一领域，环境社会学与消费社会学之间存在很大程度的重叠，因为许多社会学家认识到消费主义与消费者行为，环境问题和解决方案之间的重要和相关关系。环境社会学家还研究社会行为，如运输的使用，能源的消耗，废物和回收实践，如何塑造环境结果，以及环境条件如何影响社会行为。事实上，对环境种族主义的研究是环境社会学中一个特定的关注领域。环境社会学家今天继续研究这些关系，以及人口和机构对它们的反应方式，并在全球范围内对它们进行检查，研究各国人口之间基于相对特权和财富与环境的不同关系。
Environmental sociology is a subfield of the wider discipline in which researchers and theorists focus on the relationships between society and the environment. The subfield took shape following the environmental movement of the 1960s. Climate change is arguably the most important topic of research among environmental sociologists today. Sociologists investigate the human, economic, and political causes of climate change, and they investigate the effects that climate change has on many aspects of social life, like behavior, culture, values, and the economic health of populations experiencing its effects. Within this subfield, sociologists might examine specific institutions and structures like law, politics, and economy, and their relationships to environmental conditions; and also on the relationship between group behavior and environmental conditions, like for example the environmental implications of waste disposal and recycling. Importantly, environmental sociologists also study how environmental conditions affect the everyday lives, economic livelihood, and public health of populations. Politics, law, and public policy, and the relationships these have to environmental conditions and problems are also areas of focus among environmental sociologists. As institutions and structures that shape corporate and individual behavior, they have indirect effects on the environment. Sociologists who focus on these areas investigate topics like the extent to which and through what mechanisms laws regarding emissions and pollution are enforced; how people act collectively to shape them; and the forms of power that might enable or prevent them from doing so, among other things. Central to the sociological approach to climate change is the study of the relationship between economy and environment. A key analytic focus within this subfield is the particular effects that a capitalist economy–one premised on continual growth–has on the environment. Environmental sociologists who study this relationship might focus on the implications of consumption of natural resources in processes of production, and methods of production and resource recapture that aim to be sustainable, among other things. The relationship between energy and environment is another important topic among environmental sociologists today. This relationship is intimately connected to the first two listed, as the burning of fossil fuels to power industry is recognized by climate scientists to be the central driver of global warming, and thus climate change. Some environmental sociologists who focus on energy study the way different populations think about energy use and its implications, and how their behavior is connected to these ideas; and they might study the way energy policy shapes behavior and outcomes. Another important area of focus among environmental sociologists is the relationship between inequality and environment. Numerous studies have documented that income, racial, and gender inequality make the populations that experience them more likely to experience negative environmental outcomes like pollution, proximity to waste, and lack of access to natural resources. Many environmental sociologists study the relationship between social behavior and environment. In this area there is a large degree of overlap between environmental sociology and the sociology of consumption, as many sociologists recognize the important and consequential relationships between consumerism and consumer behavior, and environmental problems and solutions. Environmental sociologists also examine how social behaviors, like the use of transportation, consumption of energy, and waste and recycling practices, shape environmental outcomes, as well as how environmental conditions shape social behavior. The study of environmental racism is, in fact, a specific area of focus within environmental sociology. Environmental sociologists continue to study these relationships today, and the way populations and institutions respond to them, and they also examine them on a global scale, looking at the way populations among nations have differing relationships to the environment based on relative privilege and wealth.