I am currently reading Raymond Murphy's book Rationality and Nature -A Sociological Inquiry Into a Changing Relationship for my environmental sociology course this fall and for a paper I am writing on the rationalization of beekeeping and the possible irrational, unintended consequences such rationalization has had on honey bees. In this work, Murphy extends Max Weber's analysis of the rationalization of modern societies in order to create what Murphy calls "an ecology of social action." (p28)
I am still in the midst of this work, sorting out definitions and distinctions but it seems to have important implications for my own research on honey bees. At least since the mid 1800s, beekeeping in the United States has been typified by the ongoing formal, and instrumental rationalization of apicultural techniques. Modern apiculture strives to develop the most efficient means possible (formal rationalization) to achieve particular goals which are primarily concerned with "the pleasure of our own human species" (p 21) " and not the honey bees themselves (instrumental rationality). ... [T]his process of rationalization has been based on the erroneous premise of a plastic natural world and the unattainable goal of mastering nature" (p 26). All this results in "ecological irrationalities" which may well include the declining health of honey bees forced to live in an environment" increasing artificial" (p 21).
I will need to expand on and develop these ideas further, and honestly assess how useful Murphy's extention of Weber's analysis is to understanding the problems facing beekeepers and their collaborators, honey bees.