Michael Bell




Office Location

340C Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Michael Bell (he, him, his) is Chair and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology. Mike is also a faculty associate in Environmental Studies, Religious Studies, and Agroecology. He is author or editor of eleven books, three of which have won national awards. His most recent books are City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is Right (Princeton, 2018), the Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Cambridge, 2020), and the 6th edition of Invitation to Environmental Sociology (Sage, 2021).

 Mike’s work focuses on three themes: environmental sociology, agroecology, and community. A central theme that weaves through all (or nearly all!) of his work is the social meaning of nature, and especially its relationship to the social organization of inequality. He has published on the relationship of ideas of nature to inequities of class, race, gender, sexualities, and the rural, tracing their social and political use in debates over environment, religion, heritage, place, agriculture, food, and more.

Mike is currently working on a book about the social experience of heritage, and serving as a co-PI on the Grassland 2.0 project, a $10 million USDA funded, five-year grant to transform agriculture through perennialization.

In the evenings, Mike is a prolific composer and performer of grassroots and classical music. For more on his work and passions, see his website: www.michael-bell.net.

Education: Ph.D., 1992, Yale University


An Invitation to Qualitative Fieldwork: A Multilogical Approach

The Strange Music of Social Life: A Dialogue on Dialogic Sociology

An Invitation to Environmental Sociology

Country Boys: Masculinity and Rural Life

Farming For Us All: Practical Agriculture and the Cultivation of Sustainability

Walking Toward Justice: Democratization in Rural Life

Bakhtin and the Human Sciences: No Last Words

Childerley: Nature and Morality in a Country Village

The Face of Connecticut: People, Geology, and the Land


Bell, Michael. “The Problem of the Original Capitalist.” Environment and Planning. (2009): 1-16 [173 kb pdf]

Bell, Michael, et al. “The productivity of variability: an agroecological hypothesis.” International Journal Of Agricultural Sustainability. 6(2008): 233-235 [57 kb pdf]

Bell, Michael. “In The River: A Socio-Historical Account Of Dialogue And Diaspora.” Humanity & Society. 31(2007): 210-234 [371 kb pdf]

Bell, Michael. “The two-ness of rural life and the ends of rural scholarship.” Journal Of Rural Studies. 23(2007): 402-415 [178 kb pdf]

Bland, William and Michael Bell. “A holon approach to agroecology.” International Journal Of Agricultural Sustainability. 5(2007): 280-294 [535 kb pdf]

Bell, Michael. “Dialogue and Isodemocracy: an Essay on the Social Conditions of Good Talk.” International Review of Sociology. 11(2001): 281-298 [159 kb pdf]

Bell, Michael and Phillip Lowe. “Regulated freedoms: the market and the state, agriculture and the environment.” Journal of Rural Studies. 16(2000): 285-294 [115 kb pdf]

Bell, Michael. “The Dialogue Of Solidarities, Or Why The Lion Spared Androcles*.” Sociological Focus 31(1998): 181-199 [1254 kb pdf]



C&E Soc 541: Social Behavior and Natural Resources
Agroecology 702: The Multifunctionality Of Agriculture
Agroecology 710: Agroecology Seminar
Agroecology 710: Agroecology Seminar
C&E Soc 754: Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology

Course Syllabi:

Agroecology 702: The Multifunctionality Of Agriculture [1063 kb pdf]
Agroecology 720: Agroecology Field Study [225 kb pdf]
C&E Soc 748: Environmental Sociology [119 kb pdf]
C&E Soc 754: Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology [108 kb pdf]