The Geo-Ecological Turn in Sociology and its Implications for the Sociology of the Arts

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Accelerating climate change has set in motion a broad change in beliefs about human life that is affecting the social sciences and humanities (SSH). A deeper understanding of the social causes and consequences of climate change is evolving in sociology, yet some of the discipline’s subfields have not responded to climate change. Is this because climate change is perceived to be irrelevant or are scholars suppressing new beliefs that could disrupt the norms of their field? The sociology of the arts provides an illustrative case. This subfield has historically ignored environmental factors, but there is mounting pressure for correcting this oversight and rethinking the beliefs and norms of the field. This article argues that climate change is relevant to the sociology of the arts and that this subfield can become more aligned with the geo-ecological turn in sociology and the SSH. This turn is part of a wider epochal and existential transformation in public consciousness in response to broad changes in society and nature. Changing beliefs about the arts are therefore not explained by endogenous dynamics in the arts field. The article provides a meta-analysis of the geo-ecological turn in sociology and in interdisciplinary arts and cultural research where pioneering arguments have emerged. The analysis uses theory of disciplinary transformation in the sociology of science to analyze largely implicit sociological claims for a transformation of ‘normal science’ beliefs about (1) aesthetic exceptionalism, illustrated by a new conception of music as a study object, and (2) the role of the arts in economic growth. Some implications for the sociology of the arts are considered.
TidsskriftCultural Sociology
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)486-502
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 21 apr. 2022


  • climate sociology
  • disciplinary transformation
  • environmental sociology
  • music sociology
  • sociology of the arts

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