Chapter 24: The climate crisis: what sociology can contribute
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Climate change is one of the defining problems of our time, with consequences that loom large and are already felt across the globe. Despite having received relatively limited attention in the sociological literature, we propose that climate change – like many other societal problems – can be fruitfully studied through a sociological lens, with sociological tools and insights being of great value for illuminating the social processes underlying climate change as well as its societal impacts. We illustrate this point by approaching the climate crisis as a collective action problem that can be analyzed using a macro-micro-macro framework. We focus on three related themes where sociologists can make valuable contributions: (1) individual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors concerning climate change; (2) how climate-related behaviors spread through society; and (3) opportunities and challenges for effective government intervention. We highlight how sociological insights can be harnessed to identify viable strategies to combat the climate crisis.