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Manuscript deadline
31 December 2020

Cover image - European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology

European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology

Special Issue Editor(s)

Ricca Edmondson, National University of Ireland Galway
[email protected]

Henrike Rau, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
[email protected]

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The Environmental Crisis: Culture, Power and the Possibility of Change

The Environmental Crisis: Culture, Power and the Possibility of Change

Public discourse on responding to environmental crisis continues to stress individual action, on the one hand, or on the other hand either references to governmental actions or to a generalised target: ‘humanity’. It continues to be assumed that accumulating and disseminating knowledge is key to policy change, notwithstanding decades of questionable results accruing from knowledge-centred campaigns. Not only are links between knowledge and action complex and many-sided, not only are there strong social variations even in recognising what action-relevant knowledge is, but this type of discourse omits many layers of mid-range social interactions, not least practice-related habits of thought and behaviour.

Concentrating on urging individuals to act is not only inadequately effective in terms of power, reach and social complexity; it can lead to perverse consequences, as when consumers were persuaded to purchase innovative light bulbs or to use diesel for their cars, measures revealed to be counter-productive. Emphasising the impacts of ‘humanity’ in its entirety starkly fails to locate effective responsibility. Underlining the need for changing public policy, however accurate, often neglects key issues of culture and power that are key to environmental change. Environmental impacts stem from, and are embedded in, complex systems of production, consumption, influence and practice that need understanding at multiple levels. Yet contemporary debates often ignore sociality altogether.

This call for papers seeks analyses that take specific account of cultural and political features of social behaviour, not least the effects of interconnected imbalances in equality and power. Understanding potential responses to environmental problems is heavily shaped by local and communal imaginaries and practices on different scales. Considerable progress has been made in developing ideas about practices; how do they help us understand cultures of reasoning and discursive regimes, or how public measures relate to lower-level practices? For all the talk of change, and the use of novel slogans to help publics conceptualise environmental problems, are effective advances taking place? How do interlocking systems of governance and domination make it harder for us to relate non-exploitatively to the rest of the natural world, and what can be done to mitigate this?

Sociology needs to contribute in a more detailed fashion, and more incisively, to understanding the challenges and opportunities involved in responding to environmental crises. Papers, whether empirical, theoretical or (preferably) both, are solicited on this topic by December  31st, 2020.

Henrike Rau and Ricca Edmondson

[email protected]

[email protected]


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