The authors would like to thank Jennifer Nations for her input at an early stage of this work, and Ingmar Lippert for comments on an earlier draft. We are also very grateful to this journal's anonymous referees for their enormously helpful feedback.
Identities and identifications
Life politics, nature and the state: Giddens' sociological theory and The Politics of Climate Change†
Article first published online: 12 MAR 2013
© London School of Economics and Political Science 2013
The British Journal of Sociology
Volume 64, Issue 1, pages 99–122, March 2013
How to Cite
Thorpe, C. and Jacobson, B. (2013), Life politics, nature and the state: Giddens' sociological theory and The Politics of Climate Change. The British Journal of Sociology, 64: 99–122. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12008
- Issue published online: 12 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 12 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: NOV 2012
- Climate change;
- life politics;
- ontological insecurity
Anthony Giddens' The Politics of Climate Change represents a significant shift in the way in which he addresses ecological politics. In this book, he rejects the relevance of environmentalism and demarcates climate-change policy from life politics. Giddens addresses climate change in the technocratic mode of simple rather than reflexive modernization. However, Giddens' earlier sociological theory provides the basis for a more reflexive understanding of climate change. Climate change instantiates how, in high modernity, the existential contradiction of the human relationship with nature returns in new form, expressed in life politics and entangled with the structural contradictions of the capitalist state. The interlinking of existential and structural contradiction is manifested in the tension between life politics and the capitalist nation-state. This tension is key for understanding the failures so far of policy responses to climate change.