Climate change and the welfare state? Exploring Australian attitudes to climate and social policy

Ben Spies-Butcher*, Adam Stebbing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite growing evidence of significant impacts from human-induced climate change, policy responses have been slow. Understanding this policy inertia has led to competing explanations, which either point to the need to build a consensual politics separated from economic partisanship, or which encourage solidarities between environmental and social movements and issues. This article analyses a recent successful mobilisation, leading to the passage of the Clean Energy Act in Australia, to explore the relationship between attitudes to environmental and social protection, particularly among the core constituency in favour of stronger climate action. Using social survey data from the Australian Election Study, the article finds evidence of independent associations between prioritising environmental concerns and support for welfare state expansion, and a realignment of materialist and post-materialist values. This we argue is consistent with Polanyian analysis that posits a link between social and environmental causes based on resistance to commodification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-758
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Sociology
Volume52
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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