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Competing understandings of the intersection between society and environment in the climate change debate

Goodie, J. and Wickham, G. (2010) Competing understandings of the intersection between society and environment in the climate change debate. In: The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2010 Conference, 6 - 9 December, Sydney, Australia



The failure of the Copenhagen Conference to produce a legally binding agreement marks an impasse. It also poses difficulties for sociology. This paper will not attempt to directly explain why no agreement could be reached in Copenhagen. Rather, it will sketch the sociological difficulties faced by this and other such mechanisms to use politics and law to facilitate the long term stability of the interface between natural environments and modern societies. In particular, the paper will indicate the role of each of science, morality, law, politics, and economy in producing competing understandings of „environment‟ and „society‟, competing understandings which are drawn on by many participants in the climate change debate. Our appreciation of how and why it presents a crisis, how it might have occurred, its consequences, and the fact that it is an environmental problem is a product of a certain type of specifically „environmental‟ thinking. Our project is to undertake a close exposition of how various understandings of the potential threat of climate change are generated.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Notes: In S. Velayutham et al. (eds) Social Causes, Private Lives: Proceedings of the 2010 TASA Conference. Sydney: Macquarie University and The Australian Sociological Association
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