The Use of Social Sciences in Understanding the Climate Crisis

Professor Christopher Wright responds to the question “what’s the point of social science?”

Professor Christopher Wright has written a blog as a response to a piece on another site titled “what is the point of social science?”

The Sydney Environment Institute has addressed these issues before. In October, we published a blog post in response to a paper by Noel Castree titled ‘Changing the intellectual climate’ where we pondered the role of the humanities within conversations about climate change.

Christopher Wright says he understands some of the frustrations people feel when it comes to the different means of communicating climate change issues between the “hard” and “soft” sciences, saying:

The only way to really get at these sort of issues (questions of economic power, the construction of hegemonic discourses of ‘economic growth’ and ‘free markets’, the creation and maintenance of a capitalist imaginary of endless growth, the political strategies employed by corporate elites) is via a qualitative, interpretivist and social constructionist lens.

 After all, our knowledge of anthropogenic global warming stretches back over two centuries and we have had at least four decades of political hand-wringing about climate change and yet humanity’s combined greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and indeed are accelerating. How to make sense of this insanity? This is where critical social inquiry is essential.

Read Christopher Wright’s full perspective on the issue on his blog – Climate, People and Organisations.