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Social theory and climate change: questions often, sometimes and not yet asked.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2010
JournalTheory, Culture and Society
Journal number2-3
Volume27
Number of pages12
Pages277-288
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Social theorists have been dealing with issues of environment and climate change for quite some years, but on which topics have they focused and with whom have they been talking? Many of the articles included in this special issue exemplify a tendency to frame problems of climate change in terms of existing concerns, including the character of capitalism, the relation between nature and culture, or the social process of problem definition. Other forms of conceptual development are much more obviously driven by the challenge of understanding and perhaps fostering societal transformation in response to climate change. Meanwhile, policy proceeds on the basis of a characteristically thin account of the social world. In this short article I highlight differences in how these agendas unfold and comment on what this means for types of questions that social theorists have often, sometimes and not yet asked about climate change. I conclude that social theory broadly defined - has much to offer but that realizing this potential will require concerted effort and active engagement with new and unfamiliar audiences.