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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change knowledge and social movement theory

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Abstract This article discusses climate change knowledge from the perspective of social movement theory, a relatively neglected topic in the literature on climate change knowledge. This article reviews relevant studies and theories of social movements with special attention to the role of knowledge‐making in social movements, before tracing the relations between social movements and climate change knowledge from the 1970s to the present. Climate change first emerged as an issue of public concern within the context of the environmental movements of the 1970s and 1980s, while skepticism was shaped, in significant ways, by the neo‐conservative and neo‐nationalist movements that grew to political significance in the 1980s and 1990s. The neo‐liberal movements of the 1990s and 2000s have helped shape the recent rise to public attention of climate change as an overarching political problem. Finally, this article discusses how concerns with ‘climate justice’ have emerged as part of a social movement for global justice, and concludes by contrasting the different social movements that have affected and influenced the making of climate change knowledge. WIREs Clim Change 2010 1 811–823 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.88 This article is categorized under: Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Climate Science and Social Movements

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