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Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere

Philip Smith

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ISBN 10: 110710355X / ISBN 13: 9781107103559
Published by Cambridge University Press, 2015
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Climate Change as Social Drama: Global ...

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Publication Date: 2015

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

About this title


Climate change is not just a scientific fact, nor merely a social and political problem. It is also a set of stories and characters that amount to a social drama. This drama, as much as hard scientific or political realities, shapes perception of the problem. Drs Smith and Howe use the perspective of cultural sociology and Aristotle's timeless theories about narrative and rhetoric to explore this meaningful and visible surface of climate change in the public sphere. Whereas most research wants to explain barriers to awareness, here we switch the agenda to look at the moments when global warming actually gets attention. Chapters consider struggles over apocalyptic scenarios, explain the success of Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth, unpack the deeper social meanings of the climate conference and 'Climategate', critique failed advertising campaigns and climate art, and question the much touted transformative potential of natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy.


'Climate Change as Social Drama brings the powerful theoretical approaches developed by cultural sociology to the study of climate change. Through a detailed rhetorical analysis of key areas of contention, Philip Smith and Nicolas Howe provide a unique and insightful perspective on the contentious debate on climate change. This intellectual intervention provides a new way to think about this issue, as well as contribut[ing] to the development of cultural sociology. Kudos to Smith and Howe.' Robert J. Brulle, Drexel University, Philadelphia<br /><br />'The climate science community has long been calling for social analyses of how culture shapes public perception of climate change. Climate Change as Social Drama launches that conversation with a beautifully crafted and cogent response.' Kari Marie Norgaard, author of Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life<br /><br />'This is a wonderfully erudite and expositional book rooted in the new cultural sociology. It is also an exceptional book for our times. Climate Change as Social Drama provides theoretically original and penetrating insights into the unfolding dynamics and possibilities of recognizing climate change as one of the most serious threats confronting humankind today. Scholars and students, activists and citizens, and all those who are concerned not only with the deficiencies of climate change communications but also their unrealized possibilities should read it.' Simon Cottle, Cardiff University<br /><br />'For too long, too many earnest people have believed that the key to untying the Gordian knot of climate change lay in science - more science, better science, more consensual science. In this beautifully written book, Smith and Howe decisively give the lie to this belief. The key to acting in the world is to be found in the different ways in which the social drama that is climate change is made meaningful to people. This book needs to be read by climate scientists, policy advisors, and activists alike.' Mike Hulme, King's College London<br /><br />'I read this book with great interest and enthusiasm. It is well written and well argued; the authors successfully achieve their objective of 'generating scholarly debate'. They convincingly contend that ''tool kits' are only part of the equation' and then show how context and universal constructions of social dramas combine in compelling ways.' Maxwell Boykoff, American Journal of Sociology

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