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Thread: Can sociology help with climate change?

  1. #1 Can sociology help with climate change? 
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    I asked a friend who has just finished a degree in sociology whether environmental issues was discussed in the three years she was there. Over the three years, climate change was a module option for half a term, but that's it.
    I've only started looking into studying sociology as a discipline, but I've been looking into connections with issues of climate change, and its surprised me to find that in comparison to other topics its hardly mentioned.
    I'm aware that sociology is not the answer to issues of climate change, but is it not important to address all avenues to solve a problem of such a scale?
    This brings up lots to discuss for me, like why is there a lack of interest among sociologists?
    Environmental Issues are a major point in current discussions and if anyone thinks that sociology could be useful, it would be great to hear why or why not!


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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rh272 View Post
    like why is there a lack of interest among sociologists?
    According to Wiki sociology is "the scientific study of human social behaviour and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions" and "traditional focuses of sociology include social stratification, social class, social mobility, religion, secularisation, law, sexuality and deviance".
    In other words it's about how people interact with each other and "society" in general.
    Not about how people (as a group/ whole) interact with the environment/ planet.
    There is a sub-discipline, Industrial sociology, but again that tends to look at industry/ etc. only with regard to "changing patterns of inequality in modern societies and to the changing experiences of individuals and families the ways in which workers challenge, resist and make their own contributions to the patterning of work and shaping of work institutions".

    As far as sociology is concerned global warming is SEP (Someone Else's Problem).


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    I'm aware that sociology is not the answer to issues of climate change, but is it not important to address all avenues to solve a problem of such a scale?
    I'm not sure that sociology can do much more than collaborate with other disciplines in matters like this. Climate change is a bit like public health for these purposes. Epidemiologists can often identify areas or particular groups where vaccination rates are below par. Sociologists might be able to come up with explanations, or even proposals for remedying the problem. But in the end, something's got to be done - and not by sociologists.

    For climate change, sociologists might be able to help marketing/ PR/ political groups in targeting different social groups in various ways. But the real issue is the political will to do something in the first place. I'm not sure what sociology as a discipline (or any other discipline) can do about that.
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    According to Wiki sociology is "the scientific study of human social behaviour and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions" and "traditional focuses of sociology include social stratification, social class, social mobility, religion, secularisation, law, sexuality and deviance".


    And it seems to obvious that politics should be included in that list.
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    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Actually, I think the social aspect of global warming is the elephant in the room, and perhaps why so much time has been wasted debating whether it's "real."

    Social aspects that baffle me include:
    1) Unwillingness to acknowledge contradictions and out right hypocrisy, whether it's environmentalists who don't see any irony in driving across the country to go protest fracking, or when Hollywood, the epitome of conspicuous consumption and beneficiary of advertizing driven consumerism, preaches sustainability and going green to the masses.
    2) A strange cognitive dissonance regarding the goal of sustainability, while maintaining the practice of measuring economic health based on growth - an increasing number of people buying and selling an increasing number of things. The economy is basically a Ponzi scheme.
    3) An unwillingness to acknowledge that there is no way people will agree on what is a basic necessity, life enhancing, or a frivolous and wasteful luxury. Is my kayak more necessary than your ipad? Are disposable diapers worse than empty detergent containers or plastic K-cups? Is the Superbowl a valuable use of resources? If I attempt to reduce my carbon footprint, will anybody unscrew a few light bulbs in Vegas?
    4) Environmental policy that is too quick to resort to punitive taxes and raising prices, which basically puts the burden of fixing this mess disproportionately on the backs of the poor.

    (okay, I'm done ranting.)
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    And it seems to obvious that politics should be included in that list.
    Um, wouldn't politics come under "organizations, and institutions"?
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    politics begins in the brains of the voter. I have lived my career in the field of consumption (am a retired engineer). I truly believe professors have exerted too little energy, and the grunts have eaten the shit, of trying to improve efficiency and having their education, or qualifications questioned.
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    I don't know about sociology helping us deal with climate change but sociopathy certainly helps in making it worse. Avarice and envy - stock tools of trade for marketing by vested interests - are the surest way to demotivate people from something that is about acting ethically for future generations. What's in it for me?
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by rh272 View Post
    . . .I've been looking into connections with issues of climate change, and its surprised me to find that in comparison to other topics its hardly mentioned.
    It doesn't surprise me. Sociology is not fundamental to the study of climate change, although the social ramifications (needed societal changes) and effects (denial, alarmism) definitely fall under that area of study.
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    Which means that sociology sits center stage of the fossil fuel misinformation, memes that grow and spread harnessing fear, denial and guilt as among the biggest obstacles to the US (and much of the world) to making meaningful changes to our behaviors, politics, and by extension our efforts to reduce disastrous climate (and broader biosphere) changes for our grandchildren.
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    If we want to be effective we have to stop the Ivory tower thinking. Taxes are not an evil, they are the primary tool governments have to control ecconomic issues. What ever measures we want to use they will have to deal with real people and will have to work with the characteristics of real people, greed, and self centered- ness being primary amoung them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    If we want to be effective we have to stop the Ivory tower thinking. Taxes are not an evil, they are the primary tool governments have to control ecconomic issues.
    ??? Huh? Taxes are the primary means governments use to finance their operations. They are not intended to control a population or the economy, although they are often used for that.
    That ever measures we want to use they will have to deal with real people and will have to work with the characteristics of real people, greed, and self centered- ness being primary amoung them.
    Definitely.
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