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DECC and sociology

The British Sociological Association.

The [climate change ] study group was formed following the very successful BSA Presidential Debate ‘How to put society into climate change’ held at the British Library in February 2010. As that event demonstrated, sociology has an increasingly important role to play in shaping and contributing to public and policy debate about climate change. The study group provides a forum in which to explore how to effectively bring sociology’s unique perspective to bear on this most pressing of challenges. The study group is open to all sociologists, from whatever specialism and at whatever stage they may be at in their career

26 October 2012

BSA Climate change study group: informal discussion with DECC
No 3. Whitehall Place, Department of Energy and Climate Change, London, UK - 2.30-5.00pm -

This event provides members of the BSA climate change study group with an informal opportunity to meet some of the people involved in social science related research in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Those who attend will get a chance to learn more about how research influences policy, and about what makes social science useful. There will be opportunities to discuss current and future research priorities, to hear about methods of commissioning and using research, and about experiences of working with policy.


Never mind, you can always go to this one instead.  [TM.]

31 October 2012
Consumption and the Philosophy of Denim
London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

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  • Response
    I preferred BSA when they made motorbikes. - James P is one of many Bishop Hill commenters who is unimpressed by the activities of the British Sociological Association, who are trying to insert sociology into the CAGW debate. To make people believe in CAGW, with further doomed attempts along these lines?... ...

Reader Comments (39)

It will be fascinating in about 50 years' time to read sociologists on why sociologists were taken in by CAGW.

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Question for the BSA – what sociological techniques could persuade a person to impoverish themselves and their children to tackle a poorly defined hazard that will only severely affect other people, if any, and has no viable solution?

The only answers I can think of are intensive psychological brainwashing involving incarceration and torture or threatening the person with a more immediate hazard eg a machine gun.

But what do I know? Perhaps we could try a naughty step system or some kind of coloured sticker offer for good CO2 behaviour?

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion the reason sceptics and believers have so little common ground is because we really do live on different planets.

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Sociologists being consulted on climate science (or any physical science problem) is like inviting moneylenders into the temple. Drive the vermin out, don't invite them in. Sociology is nothing more than subjective (and often merely trendy) categorization falsely elevated to the status of fact; applied to the current (completely incompetent) climate consensus, it is like giving a child a loaded, hair-trigger revolver. Must I remind you of the Insane Left again, and what "insane" means? (It means war -- first, and above all, for men's minds.)

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

"...‘How to put society into climate change’ held at the British Library in February 2010. As that event demonstrated, sociology socialism has an increasingly important role to play in shaping and contributing to public and policy debate about climate change."

There, fixed it.

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

After this little lot I'm beginning to wonder whether sociologists actually perform any useful functions at all in the real world. Is it not possible that everything they get up to is just as mindless and shallow as this effort?

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

I'd lump Sociologists (what on Earth do they actually contribute to "society"?) in with those psychologists who wanted to establish climate deniers as mentally ill requiring Stalin like rehabilitation a few years ago! I seem to recall somebdy saying that the real lunatics were the ones who were acting the most sane!

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

We have a saying in Scotland (which I hope isn't too much for His Grace's sensibilities) which describes this situation pretty well I think: "Flies round shite".

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

But it's an 'ology'!

Oct 19, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Weren't sociologists part of the 1/3 of the population shipped out with telephone sanitizers and hairdressers on Ark B?

Oct 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I forgot DECC, the Met Office, assorted politicians, climatologists, greens and lots of other useless bureaucrats, including those with their snouts in the trough.

Oct 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

BSA Climate change study group: informal discussion with DECC
No 3. Whitehall Place, Department of Energy and Climate Change, London, UK


Destination Star Trek London

Beam down to ExCeL from 19-21 October with mores guests, themed parties, interactive activities, professional photo shoots, autograph sessions, original sets, props and displays, memorabilia, talks and stunt displays plus more to be announced. Plus Five captains beaming down - William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula!
So whether you have been a fan since the very first season back in 1966 or a recent convert with the 2009 movie there will be something for every fan.


Battle of Ideas at the Barbican this weekend.
They got a debate about Shale and some stuff about trusting Scientists.

Bishop Hill readers take your pick.

Oct 19, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

J4R, I love that idea... maybe it will create a positive feedback loop such that sociology self-combusts after a few iterations... we can only hope.

Oct 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

"sociology’s unique perspective"


Oct 19, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

I preferred BSA when they made motorbikes.

Oct 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James P try checking this link out.
Happier simpler times.
Enjoy L8rs

Oct 19, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

DECC employs sociologists!


Oct 19, 2012 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

' ... learn more about how research influences policy ...'

I trust they're also going to point out where the reverse has applied :-)

Oct 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

I mean, please. Do me a buggering favour. Here we have fully paid-up members of every right-on, bien-pensant, government-funded eco movement, encouraging and reinforcing each other at every turn, and suggesting what?

That they be listened to, that they be indulged, that they instantly obeyed.

This is beyond incest. It is a kind of appalling, self-congratulatory wank-fest.

Yet not only do these smarmy types expect to be taken seriously, they expect, indeed demand, to be funded.

More horrifyingly still, they are.

And still the BBC, Guardian, Indy, Milliband, Balls and crew moan about cuts.

Cuts my flaming arse.

I apologise for my intemperate language. Not my usual style.

But talk about blood reaching boiling point . . .

This is what happens when the counter-culture –groovy, far out and never wrong – becomes the new establishment.

Give me Harold Macmillan any day.

Oct 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

‘How to put society into climate change’

That is quite a sentence isn't it? Does it make sense?

It seems after all this time of heightened propaganda that climate change should be a palpable thing we shouldn't be arguing over - but it doesn't seem to be working out that way does it?

I suggest we see here that these people have abstracted climate change to such an extent that they have forgot where they came from, or what they mean, and now need to artificially inject meaning back into their construct(s).

I.e. they feel the need to inject the “customer” back into the subject they make so much capital out of.

The subject is a meaningless abstraction now.

It is their needs we should fulfil.

So read it again:

‘How to put society into climate change’

Makes more sense now?

They need society to please them. They have nothing to offer society.

It is sad.

Oct 19, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

There are times when I am inclined to think the maggots are gleefully devouring the corpse of our Western industrialised society before it's even pronounced dead. This is one of those times.

Oct 19, 2012 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

unique perspective ... that's a euphemism, isn't it?

Oct 19, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

To put this succinctly, the sociologists have seen how much money is being given to DECC to splash out on global warming, and they want a cut. I hope this does not end up with something like the furore over the Lewandowsky paper.

Oct 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdward Bancroft

Oct 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Edward Bancroft

I hope this does not end up with something like the furore over the Lewandowsky paper.

A "furore"? Where? The gobshite L. got some critical attention from intelligent people and continues on blithely un "furored" as far as I can see - ("furore" - which means the public get a chance to give a hoot ;) )

L. continues on being adored by morons knowing he risks no chance of being molested by any "furore" ;)

Maybe like with the Jimmy Savile case we will have to wait many years until times are more accepting to hear the truth? ;)

Oct 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

BS Association, sounds about right. This is all so 2007, while in the here and now the energy policy rationalists are progressively wresting control from the eco-freaks. My advice to the luvvies is to move on to the next big scare - this one's already burnt toast.

Oct 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

"Sociology degree -please take one"

Was a sign above one of the toilet-roll holders in the Gents toilets when I was at University

Oct 19, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAsmilwho

"As that event demonstrated, sociology has an increasingly important role to play in shaping and contributing to public and policy debate about climate change."

I'm all in favour of open debate. Let's hear BOTH sides.

Oct 19, 2012 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Or: 'How to get your snouts in the trough'.

Oct 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJon Jermey

I've got 42 meanings for BSA, including some gems like Bosnian Serb Army, the Belarusian Socialist Assembly and the British Stammering Association. No doubt they all have a climate change statement.

Oct 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

A well known definition of sociology is that it's the study of those who don't need to be studied, by those that do.

Oct 20, 2012 at 1:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterMiv Tucker

I think the scociologists are probably just "doing a Fenton":

Oct 20, 2012 at 2:09 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Is there ANY discipline that WON'T whore themselves to this climate change crap?

Oct 20, 2012 at 5:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterTRE

TRE: Professional Engineers see through climate pseudo-science because it assumes the Earth radiates IR as an isolated black body in a vacuum, impossible because convection and radiation are coupled. With the other main heat transfer error at TOA, the models are based on a perpetual motion machine.There can be no significant CO2-AGW. The claimed positive feedback is imaginary.

This has been 30 years of wasted work. I do hope Trenberth, Hansen, Mann and others face appropriate nemesis. Also, I hope this will be a lesson to those disciplines where practitioners are trained in the correct heat transfer principles but have gone along with the fraud out of carelessness.

Oct 20, 2012 at 7:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Sociology: degrees in minding other people's business.

Oct 20, 2012 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

"...sociology has an increasingly important role to play in shaping and contributing to public and policy debate about climate change..."

Years ago we used to laugh at this sort of stuff when it appeared on our buzzphrase generators. Its as if the jokes of my youth have been taken as blueprints for the Government of today.

Oct 20, 2012 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I should say we still get some fun from playing "Bullshit Bingo" at political and corporate presentations. The games just don't seem to last so long.

Oct 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

In the States, most people would understand the credibility of the organization by the first two letters of its acronym.

Oct 20, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

Sociologists having discussions with AGW supporters?

The blind leading the blind.

Oct 21, 2012 at 2:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

And from Warwick's Humanities Research Centre:

Planetary Cancer:
Growth Economy and Culture in an Era of Climate Crisis
Saturday 9th March 2013
The University of Warwick


The struggle to understand, manage, and represent the problems concerning human activity on this planet is a struggle for the survival of our species. This conference will establish a space for dialogue between three disciplines: Marxist ecology; food security; and environmental literature.

Presenters may wish to engage with:

• literature as a problem solving tool
• biodiversity off-setting
• environmental activism
• structural violence
• the health of late-capitalism
• competing understandings of environmentalism
• the threat of a global ecological catastrophe
• challenges to interdisciplinary studies relating to environmentalism
• alternative cultures/ways of inhabiting landscape and producing food
• problems of, and opportunities for, imagining beyond capitalism
• literature of new world orders
• dating the Anthropocene
• eco-utopias/-dystopias
• structural ecopoetics
• jurisdictive analyses of types of oikos

Oct 23, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Registered CommenterDR

Sorry I’ve arrived too late to join in the discussion. As a sour postscript, can I say that the social sciences are one of the proudest achievements of our modern (post enlightenment) world?
The fact that the BS Association is eager to lick the green welly is neither here nor there. We need the insights of social science to understand what’s gone wrong - politically, socially and mentally wrong.

Oct 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

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