Sociology for sustainability science

Stefano Longo, Ellinor Isgren, Brett Clark, Andrew K. Jorgenson, Anne Jerneck, Lennart Olsson, Orla M. Kelly, David Harnesk, Richard York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sociological insights are often underutilized in sustainability science. To further strengthen its commitment to interdisciplinary problem-driven, solutions-oriented research, sustainability science can better incorporate fundamental sociological conceptions into its core. We highlight four aspects of sociological thought that we consider crucial for advancing sustainability science research: (1) social construction and critical realism, (2) structure and agency, (3) historical specificity, and (4) collective action. We draw on examples from sociology to support a dynamic understanding of how social relations interact with the bio-geo-physical world. This necessary integration of sociological insights, we argue, is critical to generate comprehensive assessments of the causes and consequences of human-induced environmental change, and tend to be overlooked or oversimplified within the field of sustainability science. Beyond that, it can stimulate the development and implementation of viable solutions to sustainability challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Number of pages14
JournalDiscover Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 27

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Free keywords

  • Critical realism
  • Social structure
  • Collective action
  • Social relations
  • Environmental sociology


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