Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


There is a well-known story in climate change circles about the campaign run by opponents of action on climate change in the United States in the run-up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. A prominent ad in the campaign featured a stereotypical soccer mom, who declared: “The government wants to take away my SUV” (Schneider 2002). The ad is usually read in terms of the fossil fuel corporations’ strategy to undermine Kyoto, and action on climate change more generally, and the use of AstroTurf initiatives - corporate front organizations claiming to represent the grassroots - to advance that strategy. But there is another possible reading of this campaign, and this specific ad, which the framework developed in this book helps to illuminate. That is, contained within its narrative is the intertwining of devices, desires, and dissent in ways that help us understand how and why high-carbon practices and economies are so robust. It is precisely the intertwined sets of affective desires (motherhood and social obligation, as well as possession itself, as in “my SUV”) and the devices that are the objects of those desires (the SUV and its embedding in automobility as a whole, the soccer game) that serve to organize dissent against action on climate change. Many of the chapters in this book have shown, in diverse and often mundane ways, similar combinations of devices, desires, and dissent that operate to block low-carbon transitions. These ways are deeply socially and culturally embedded. Thus, the chapters in this book underscore how difficult it is to produce change, and how much work is involved. The high-carbon world is robust. Our framework is useful in helping us understand how this world comes into being, the forms of culture and politics that hold it together, and the processes through which it might fall apart. This is an important conclusion because much of the contemporary discourse on climate change policy and governance seems to assume that if certain barriers were removed, then a low-carbon transition would start as a smooth and manageable transition, from “here” to “there.”.


External organisations
  • Durham University
  • University of Ottawa
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTowards a Cultural Politics of Climate Change
Subtitle of host publicationDevices, Desires and Dissent
EditorsHarriet Bulkeley, Matthew Paterson, Johannes Stripple
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781316694473
ISBN (Print)9781107166271
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch