Brock University

Sociological Perspectives on Climate Change: Climate Risk, Mitigation and Adaptation

The social interpretations, causes, impacts and solutions to climate change have increasingly been the study of sociological analysis. In this session, we will share research that furthers our understanding of the sociological dimensions of this key environmental issue. We welcome papers that focus on a range of climate change-related topics such as: adaptation, public opinion and behaviour, media representations and climate discourse, policy-making and governance, social inequality, climate justice, corporate responses, or social movements. We welcome papers that use a diversity of methodological and theoretical approaches to advance the sociology of climate change.

Session Organizer: Mark Stoddart, Memorial University, mstoddart@mun.ca ; David Tindall, University of British Columbia, tindall@mail.ubc.ca

 

Environmental Changes, Markets and Smallholder Farming in Bangladesh: Questioning the Technological Optimism

Manoj Misra, University of Alberta, mmanoj@ualberta.ca

Climate change presents a grave threat to agricultural communities in Bangladesh, a tiny, low-lying and geographically precarious landmass that is home to more than 150 million people. This paper offers an in-depth sociological analysis of how the intersection of markets, institutions and nature – both the immediate ecosystem and the broader climate system – shape peasant livelihoods in Bangladesh. The underlying objective of this paper is to question the technological optimism inherent in mainstream policy discourse by highlighting the systemic vulnerabilities of smallholder peasants in Bangladesh. I posit that these vulnerabilities emanate from the specific configuration of the market, institutions and agricultural practices, and the way in which these factors, individually and collectively, act upon environmental variables. I conclude by demonstrating the need for a fundamental rethinking of and an eventual departure from the current rice monoculture pivoted on chemical dependence and an unsustainable use of natural resources. This paper is primarily based on qualitative fieldwork conducted in early 2012 in three Bangladeshi villages.

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