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Understanding Society Assignment Sample

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How can a sociological perspective contribute to our understanding of climate change?


Introduction: Understanding Society

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Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges humanity is facing today. It is essential to consider the social dimension of climate change along with scientific ones. The sociological perspective often gets overlooked by policymakers and the public in addressing and understanding climate change but it can provide valuable insights into social, economic and political factors contributing to climate change. This essay aims to understand different sociological perspectives that contribute to the understanding of climate change in people's lives. The main focus of the essay is how social structure, norms, behaviour and movement help to understand and address climate change.


A sociological perspective is an approach to understanding human behaviour that focuses on different factors like social, cultural and historical which help to shape individual and collective actions. Sociologists used a variety of methods including surveys, interviews and observation to investigate social phenomena and explore the ways in which social structures and institutions contribute to shaping human behaviour (Usman et al. 2022). The main perspective of sociology involved seeing through the outside appearances of human action and organisations. Sociological perspective observe society via a lens regardless of personal viewpoints generalising the causes and action of individual patterns and categories. Sociologists identify the pattern behind features of social interaction to find common attitudes and features along with hidden patterns behind the characteristics and behaviour of different people. There are several different sociological perspectives and each one of them has their unique approach to understanding human behaviour. Structural functionalism, conflict theory, feminist theory, symbolic interactionism and post-modernism are some of the sociological perspectives (Newell, Twena and Daley, 2021). These from each other and different approaches to understanding human behaviour emphasise the social context in which behaviour occurs. Sociological perspectives unlike psychological or biological approaches look at broader social structures and institutions shaping human behaviour. These perspectives essays to humans better understand themselves. This is due to people viewing society through the narrow lens of their close family, friends, and coworkers in the absence of a sociological perspective. The sociological perspective aids in understanding how personal experience and societal issues are related by analyzing social structures and institutions. It enables one to see how daily activities and routines related to larger social trends and to value the viewpoints of individuals with various social experiences.

A sociological perspective is a way to look at the world that emphasises the social aspect of human behaviour and the role of social structures and institutions that ship individual and group behaviour. On the other hand, understanding climate change incorporates the earth's climate recognition and change due to human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuel, releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Soeder, 2021). Social structures are patterns of relationship that exist within a society including economic system, political institutions and cultural values. These structures play a significant role in shipping human behaviour and decision making also responsive towards climate change. An economic system that is driven by the pursuit of profit and growth leads to the exploitation of natural resources producing greenhouse gases (Usman et al. 2022). The sociological perspective help to understand the economic incentive and power dynamic that underline the behaviour and suggest an alternative economic model prioritising sustainability and social well-being. Climate change involves human societies and sociological perspectives on problems like disappearance, depletion, loss and collapse (Elliott, 2018). Whereas, political institutions like the government have the power to regulate and incentivise behaviour through policies and laws playing a crucial role in shaping the response to climate change. They are often influenced by powerful interest groups that have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Cultural values and norms contribute to climate change by emphasising materialism and the pursuit of convenience and comfort that led to an unable pattern of consumption and generated waste. Sociological perspectives help to understand political, economic, and cultural values and norms that support behaviours and promote effective policies and sustainable cultural practices (Newell, Twena and Daley, 2021). Sociological perspective help to understand how social structure contributes to climate change by suggesting ways to address the underline factor. Recognition of the social dimensions of the problem and working towards mitigating the root cause of the problem a sustainable future can be achieved.

Social norms and behaviours are a kind of unwritten rules and practices that govern the interactions between people and influence individual behaviour. These norms and behaviours either can promote sustainable practices or hinder the practices finally contributing to climate change. Driving and card can be seen as a necessity and even desirable behaviour in many societies despite it being one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the use of meat and dairy products is regarded as normal behaviour, even though livestock is a significant cause of methane emissions, which are 25% more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide and contribute to deforestation (Nunes, 2023). A sociological perspective can help to understand how these social norms and behaviour develop and reinforce within society. Sociologists examine social institutions, cultural values and power dynamics that shape this behaviour and suggest ways to promote more sustainable practices. One of the approaches is to challenge these social norms to change behaviour through social media marketing campaigns, educational programs and policy interventions. This could be done by promoting public transportation, cycling as an alternative to driving and promoting the good sides of a plant-based diet. Another approach can be done by creating an alternative social norm and behaviour that prioritise sustainability. The zero-waste movement promotes practices like composting, recycling and reducing consumption that help to reduce carbon emissions and waste generation (Zaman, 2022). Social status acknowledges the certainty of risk underlining the correlation between social economic inequalities and exposure to climate change and pollution. Socially underdeveloped people are more vulnerable to pollution because they often have worse health conditions compared to the upper class (Maturo and Moretti, 2018). Overall, the sociological perspective help to identify social norm and behaviour which contribute to climate change and suggest a way to promote more sustainable practices by understanding how they develop and reinforce in society creating a more sustainable future.

Social movement and activism have played a crucial role in raising awareness of climate change and advocating for policies and changes to address the impact of climate change. Social movements are organised groups of individuals who come together in order to promote a common cause like addressing climate change. Activism referred to individual and collective actions that are taken to bring about social or political change. The sociological perspective helps to understand the strategies and tactics of these movements and acts. Sociologists identify social structure and norms that shift these movements and they help to maximize the effectiveness of this movement by providing suggestions. The strategy used by social movements and activism is often aimed to raise public awareness about the issue of climate change. This involves organising protests, marches and rallies along with the help of social media and other forms of communication to spread information (Castelli Gattinara and Pirro, 2019). Pushing for changes in laws and regulations is another method that social movements and activism may combat climate change. This may entail contacting elected officials, planning campaigns, or even taking direct action through sit-ins and nonviolent demonstrations. These groups can support the development of laws and other institutional frameworks that support more environmentally friendly behaviour.

A sociological perspective can also help to understand the challenges that these social movements face in promoting change. There are ways in which political and economic elites can appropriate social movements, as well as ways in which movements can divide and lose momentum over time. In this case, social movement theory provides a framework for understanding the dynamics of social movement and their role in creating social change. The application of the social movement theory to the climate change issue can help one to understand why some environmental movements are successful in mobilizing collective action and promoting policy change while others are not so impactful (Milano, Novelli and Cheer, 2019). Political opportunity theory is a part of social movement theory suggesting that movements are more likely to be successful when they are favourable to political opportunity and environment (Castelli Gattinara and Pirro, 2019). The dynamics of the environmental movement and activism, as well as their role in pushing a change in policy and addressing climate change, can be better understood through the application of the social movement theory. Additionally, the sociological perspective aids in comprehending the techniques and tactics employed by this movement to sway public opinion and climate change legislation.


In order to understand and address the issue of climate change, a sociological perspective can be stated to be a beneficial tool. This makes it simpler to pinpoint the social structures that cause the problem and provide solutions, including the political institutions, economic systems, and cultural standards. By shedding light on the institutions and social structures that influence how individuals act and make decisions, sociological perspectives, as the article has argued, might considerably advance our understanding of climate change. Understanding the social forces that shape behaviour allows sociologists to develop a variety of strategies for promoting good social change and addressing social concerns like climate change.


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  • Elliott, R., 2018. The sociology of climate change as a sociology of loss. European Journal of Sociology/Archives Européennes de Sociologie, 59(3), pp.301-337.
  • Han, H. and Ahn, S.W., 2020. Youth mobilization to stop global climate change: Narratives and impact. Sustainability, 12(10), p.4127.
  • Islam, M.S. and Kieu, E., 2021. Sociological perspectives on climate change and society: A review. Climate, 9(1), p.7.
  • Maturo, A. and Moretti, V., 2018. Sociological theories on air pollution: between environmental justice and the risk society approach. Clinical Handbook of Air Pollution-Related Diseases, pp.603-620.
  • Milano, C., Novelli, M. and Cheer, J.M., 2019. Overtourism and degrowth: A social movements perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(12), pp.1857-1875.
  • Newell, P., Twena, M. and Daley, F., 2021. Scaling behaviour change for a 1.5-degree world: challenges and opportunities. Global Sustainability, 4, p.e22.
  • Nunes, L.J., 2023. The Rising Threat of Atmospheric CO2: A Review on the Causes, Impacts, and Mitigation Strategies. Environments, 10(4), p.66.
  • Soeder, D.J., 2021. Greenhouse gas sources and mitigation strategies from a geosciences perspective. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 5(3), pp.274-285.
  • Usman, M., Jahanger, A., Makhdum, M.S.A., Balsalobre-Lorente, D. and Bashir, A., 2022. How do financial development, energy consumption, natural resources, and globalization affect Arctic countries' economic growth and environmental quality? An advanced panel data simulation. Energy, 241, p.122515.
  • Zaman, A., 2022. Zero-waste: A new sustainability paradigm for addressing the global waste problem. In The Vision Zero Handbook: Theory, Technology and Management for a Zero Casualty Policy (pp. 1-24). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
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