Socio-Environmental Analysis and Methods


The main objective of this course is to supply the students of the degree with the main concepts of social sciences, as well as with the methods and techniques of social research, essential for the understanding and analysis of integrated environmental systems. The course is structured in four components: (1) Methods and techniqes of social research; (2) Sociology applied to the environment; (3) Social Psychology applied to the environment; (4) Decision processes and public participation.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria da Graça Madeira Martinho, Paula Cristina Gonçalves Dias Urze


Weekly - 2

Total - 2

Teaching language



None in particular


Gross, M; Heinrichs, H (2010). Environmental sociology: European perspectives and interdisciplinary challenges. Springer

Kuhn, S. (2012). The structure of scientific revolutions (4th ed.). Univ. Chicago

Raghu, J; Rodrigues, L (2020). Behavioral aspects of solid waste management: A systematic review, JA&WMA, 70:12, 1268-1302

Sjöberg, L (2012). Risk Perception and Societal Response. In: Roeser S. et al. (ed) Handbook of Risk Theory. Springer

Steg, L; Gifford, R (2017). Social psychology and environmental problems. In  Steg, L et al. (ed). App Social Psychology (2nd Ed)

Van Campenhoudt, L; Marquet, J; Quivy, R (2017). Manuel de recherche en sciences sociales5e édition entièrement revue et augmentée. Malakoff Dunod 

Van Lange, P; Joireman, J; Parks, C; Van Dijk, E (2013). The psychology of social dilemmas: Org. Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 120,:2, 125-141

Teaching method

Teaching language: Portuguese

The course is organized in four components. In each component the basic concepts are presented and the case studies analyzed.

Despite the lecture being in expository format, it reccurs frequently to the audiovisual materials to facilitate the understanding of the student of situations of the real life and the theoretical elements, besides being used as a base to promote debate in the classroom. The documentaries of The Respigadores? and the Social Portrait of Portugal are some of the ones used. During the classes group wok is frequently developed to apply knowledge taught favoring an approach of hands on.

Evaluation method

1) Attendance

The attendance for 1st registration students, is obtained by:

i) Attendance to 2/3 of the classes, and

ii) Development of a group work assignment, with a grade equal or more than 9.5

The attendance is valid for 2 years.

2) Continuous Evaluation

The evaluation is continuous and integrates the following components:

- 2 mini-tests, previously registered in CLIP, with a duration of about 30 min each, with equal weight in the theorical component grade, the respective average has to be equal or superior to 9.5; there is no minimum classification requirement for any of the three mini-tests.

- A group work assignement which grade has to be equal or superior to 9.5.

3) Resource Exam

This UC does not have a resource exam.

4) Final Calssification of the UC

60% mini-tests + 40% group work assignement

5) General Dispositions

The rounding of the Final Grade is done, only once, in the last calculation.

Subject matter

1. Methods and Techniques of Social Research

Faculty: Graça Martinho and Lia Vasconcelos /DCEA- Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente.

1. Social research; 1.1Main principles for the scientific research; 1.2 Phases of a social research. 2. Quantitative methods; 2.1 Sampling techniques. Design of the sample. Conditions and elements of the samples. 2.2 Sources of information. Documental and statistical sources. 2.3 Inquiry techniques. Questionnaire; 2.4 Analysis and interpretation of data: preliminary operations of analysis of data. Content and statistical analysis. 3. Qualitative analysis; 3.1 Models for the analysis. The rational and phenomenological model. Interpretative analysis. Selection and adjustment of the selected methodology. The participant observation; 3.2 Group processes; 3.3 The interview (intensive, semi-structured and structured); 3.4 Stories and narratives; 3.5 Content analysis.

2. Sociology applied to the environment

Faculty: Paula Urze /DCSA- Departamento de Ciências Sociais e Aplicadas.

1. The study object and the conceptual framework; 1.1  The sociology in the context of other social sciences; 1.2 Sociology and environment. 2. Society, technology and environment; 2.1 Social and technological change; 2.2 Environment and nature: values and representation in the Portuguese population; 2.3 Environment and risk society. 

3. Social Psychology applied to the environment

Faculty: Graça Martinho /DCEA- Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente.

1. Introduction to social psychology; 1.2 The social psychology and its application to environmental engineering. 2. Social dilemmas; 2.1 Theory of social dilemmas. "The tragedy of the commons";  2.2 Cooperation vs competition. 3. Environmental attitudes and behaviors; 3.1 The concept and attitude building; 3.2 Measurement and scales of attitudes; 3.3 Relation environmental behavior-attitude. 4. Risk perception. 5. Environmental education; 5.1 Concept. History.  Formal and non formal education; 5.2 Environmental education and education for sustainability.

4. Decision processes and public participation

Faculty: Lia Vasconcelos /DCEA- Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente.

1. New social contexts and its dynamics. Characterization of the present society and of its contexts. Implication resulting of the present complexity and uncertainty. Representative democracy vs deliberative democracy. 2. Decision processes. The faces of power and political behavior. Conflict and negotiation. Processes of decision making. Difficulty of response to the present challenges using traditional formats of decision making. Reasons that contribute to the controversies of environmental decisions. Key actors, interests and values. New forms of citizenship. Collaborative formats of decision. 3. Participative methods. Main issues that distinguish the methods of third generation from the traditional ones. Complex problems and the need to decide overcoming the merely technical aspects. New approaches to the integration and articulation of information/knowledge. 


Programs where the course is taught: