Runaway: Gregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness

Univ. of North Carolina. Sept. 2017. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469631738. $32.95; ebk. ISBN 9781469631745. SCI
Anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1904–80) has often been referred to as a lost giant of 20th-century thought. He was seen as an outlier and a rebel owing to his willingness to move from discipline to discipline in a field that thrived on specialization. Bateson's curiosity led him to introduce the double-bind theory of schizophrenia and study dolphin communication. He distanced himself from established experts but found audiences open to his ideas in the 1960s, including poet Allen Ginsberg. In London, he pioneered discussion of the "greenhouse effect." This was the first public mention of how fossil fuels could change the earth's climate, melt polar ice caps, and increase sea levels worldwide. The greenhouse effect, with other threats to the environment, was evidence of something referred to as "runaway." A system in runaway was a system out of balance and accelerating toward breakdown—which relates to current ecological concerns.
VERDICT This book helps to provide a foundation for the ecological consciousness that emerged from the counterculture ideas in the mid-20th century. Recommended for environmental studies students and researchers.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing