Tag: neoliberalism

Polity podcasts: John Urry – Climate Change and Society

John Urry Climate Change and SocietyJohn Urry is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. His many publications include Sociology Beyond Society and After the Car.

I met him recently in Lancaster to talk to him about his latest book, Climate Change and Society, which explores the significance of human behaviour for understanding the causes and impacts of changing climates and responding to those impacts.

1. I began by asking him about his central thesis, that sociology ought to replace economics as the main discourse for understanding anthropogenic climate change. [Click here]

2. Next I asked about whether understanding how complex systems functioned in the past and present can provide any guidance to the future. [Click here]

“Sociology can bring out the enduring social and economic conflicts which inhibit change…”

3. John Urry reflects on how sociology can sharpen our understanding the vested interests of the “carbon military-industrial complex” and how those interests constrain responses to climate change. [Click here]

4. In Climate Change and Society, John Urry writes that we shall all have to become futurologists by necessity. I asked him about the difficulty of this, given that we are dealing with two highly complex systems: the climate and human societies. [Click here]

“There is a very good reason why no future is good…”

5. John Urry on the “narrowed range of possibilities” that the twentieth century bequeathed the twenty-first. [Click here]

To watch a short video about the book, click here.

To listen to the complete interview, click here.

Susan George: Whose Crisis, Whose Future?

Whose Crisis, Whose Future cover Susan George is an internationally renowned political scientist and author of over a dozen widely translated books. She was born in the Midwest during the Great Depression, but moved to France in the 1960s and subsequently took French citizenship. She still lives in Paris.

Susan George achieved prominence in 1976 with her first ground-breaking book, How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reason for World Hunger (available as a free download via this link). After hunger she went on to study debt and poverty, as reflected in books such as The Debt Boomerang and A Fate Worse than Debt.

George is president of the board of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, an international network of scholar-activists committed to social change.

Susan George

Before we talked about her new book on our current predicament, Whose Crisis, Whose Future?, I asked her about the values she grew up with. Had the great collective effort made by the US in World War Two been particularly influential? [To listen to this section of the interview, click here.]

Turning to her new book, I asked Susan to outline what her new book was about. Did the crisis of the title go beyond the current financial crisis? [To listen to this section of the interview, click here.]

Susan George

Besides diagnosing the problem, does the book also put forward solutions? [To listen to this section of the interview, click here.]

The diagrams below depict, first, the status quo in Susan George’s analysis, with finance at the centre of everything and the environment only a peripheral concern, and second, the state which Susan George advocates we must move to, and quickly.

Susan George graphic 1

Susan George graphic 2

Susan George

Collaboration in order to bring about change is a key element of Susan George’s prescription. She discusses the need for concerted action here.

Susan George

Already in her first book Susan George was saying “Study the rich, not the poor” and she is saying it still. I asked her why that was so and why the message still needed repeating. [To listen to this section of the interview, click here.]

Susan George

George Hijacking AmericaI asked Susan why she thought that people voted for – and believed in – governments that  didn’t have their best interests at heart. This took us to a discussion of her previous book, Hijacking America and the role of “money, management and media” in shaping our political culture and the shortcomings of the left. [To listen to this section of the interview, click here.]

Susan George

The final question: does Susan Georkge believe we can save the planet while neoliberal capitalism remains the dominant international system? [To listen to this section of the interview, click here.]

Susan George