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Remapping social inequalities in an age of climate change: for a cosmopolitan renewal of sociology*


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    Revised version of opening lecture given at the German Sociology Conference ‘Uncertain Times’, 6 October 2008 in Jena, Germany.


Climate change globalizes and radicalizes social inequality; it exacerbates inequalities of rich and poor, core and periphery, and at the same time dissolves them in the face of a common threat to humanity. Climate change combines with the inequalities arising from globalization, decoupling the producers and subjects of risk. Remapping inequality in the age of climate change and globalization therefore requires taking account of the unbounding of both equality and inequality, and an awareness of the end of the opposition between society and nature, one of the founding principles of sociology. The article outlines four theses of inequality, climate change and globalization, and concludes with the question: what does a cosmopolitan renewal of the social sciences mean and how will it be possible?