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The Environment and Carbon Dependence Landscapes of Sustainability and Materiality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369 - 387
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

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  • King's College London


Sustainability has been the subject of considerable attention from the natural and social sciences and, during the last two decades, the discursive aspects of the way we construct nature and sustainability have opened up new terrain. These debates have been given urgency by the growing awareness of global climate change, and the need to formulate policy responses. On the one hand, the attention to policy has led to the belief, among many environmental economists, that climate change can be characterized as a 'market failure'. From a quite different perspective, some recent work has provided critiques of the way nature is being transformed by capital, and sustainability is viewed in terms of changing materialities and poststructuralist understanding of the role of ideology. The article reviews these positions on the environment and carbon 'dependence' and argues that sociology has a real contribution to make to the analysis of future 'post-carbon' societies, drawing on its roots in critique and the elaboration of alternative, utopian, futures.

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