Sociology and the climate crisis

Eric Klinenberg, Malcolm Araos, Liz Koslov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


What would it mean for sociology to make climate change a core disciplinary concern? This article reviews research on a selection of trends brought on by the climate crisis: (a) compounding and cumulative disasters, infrastructure breakdown, and adaptation; (b) intensifying migration and shifting patterns of settlement; and (c) transformations in consumption, labor, and energy. While climate change's far-reaching implications remain peripheral to the discipline at large, sociologists studying these trends increasingly understand the crisis as a central problem for the study of social life. We show how sociologists can shed light on core problems emerging from and contributing to the crisis, and also reveal the conditions that make necessary social and cultural transformations more likely. Throughout, we illuminate how sociology can help chart a path out of the climate crisis by identifying alternatives to the high-carbon, low-equity social structures that organize the modern world. Finally, we identify possibilities for scholars who do not see themselves as "environmental sociologists" to contribute meaningful research on the climate crisis, and we encourage them to do so while we can make a difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnnual Review of Sociology
PublisherAnnual Reviews Inc.
Number of pages21
StatePublished - Jul 30 2020

Publication series

NameAnnual Review of Sociology
ISSN (Print)0360-0572


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • community
  • consumption
  • disasters
  • infrastructure
  • migration
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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