Climate change, migration,
in the Pacific
Jason Brown and John Middleton
Climate change is disproportionately affecting Pacific nations, in part, due
to their fragile island environments. This change indirectly threatens Pacific
languages, with a mass migration of populations occurring and climate-
related language policy still in its infant stage. This work aims to outline
the problems and prospects for policy development in this area, with an
aim to solving the associated problem of language loss through
The Global Agenda for Social Justice provides accessible insights into some of the world’s most pressing social problems and proposes practicable international public policy responses to those problems.
Written by a highly respected team of authors brought together by the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), chapters examine topics such as education, violence, discrimination, substance abuse, public health, and environment. The volume provides recommendations for action by governing officials, policy makers, and the public around key issues of social justice.
The book will be of interest to scholars, practitioners, advocates, journalists, and students interested in public sociology, the study of social problems, and the pursuit of social justice.
This book explores how the uncertainties of the 21st century present existential challenges to civil society. These include changing modes of governance (through devolution and Brexit), austerity, migration, growing digital divides, issues of (mis)trust and democratic confidence, welfare delivery and the COVID-19 pandemic and the contemporary threat to minority languages and cultures.
Presenting original empirical findings, this book brings together core strands of social theory to provide a new way of understanding existential challenges to the form and function of civil society. It highlights pressing social issues and transferable lessons that will inform policy and practice in today’s age of uncertainty.
On 14 March, 2019, Cyclone Idai—one of the worst tropical cyclones ever to hit southern Africa—made landfall near the port city of Beira in central Mozambique, before moving across the southeast African region, affecting millions of people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Six weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in northern Mozambique, making it the first time in recorded history that two strong tropical cyclones hit the country in the same season. The devastation caused by Idai and Kenneth left more than 1,300 people dead, with many more missing, and 2.5 million people in need of basic resources and humanitarian assistance (for healthcare, nutrition, protection, education, water, and sanitation) in Mozambique alone (UNICEF, 2019). Today, over 104,000 people continue to live in resettlement sites and accommodation centers in central Mozambique, and nearly 670,000 people are displaced in the northern part of the country (CARE, 2021). But were these two “natural disasters,” which are deemed part of the “climate crisis,” the root cause of this tragedy?
Since 2010, the French energy firm Total has invested US$20 billion in a liquefied natural gas project just off the coast of northern Mozambique, making it one of the biggest investments in Africa. Supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as the Mozambican government, this gas project is estimated to produce 65 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas by 2024 and will expand to produce 43 million tonnes per annum.
What does it mean to study and understand a global social problem from the perspective of global sociology? When invited to share some thoughts on this question for the 2022 Agenda for Social Justice, we realized that any perspective or direction for such problem-solving that we might articulate would first require substantial problem “dis-solving.” How we frame the problem in the first place shapes how we examine and understand it. In this chapter, we revisit a common discourse in sociology that distinguishes between a “social” and a “sociological” problem. This discourse suggests that there is an inherent aspect of sociology’s disciplinary logic and orientation toward representing society that leads it to question, rather than reinforce, the framing of problems deployed by administrative disciplines. Then, we challenge the underlying assumption of this argument by highlighting examples of sociology’s pernicious entanglement with administrative disciplines. We reflect on two critical agendas working not only within, but also beyond certain confines of, global sociology to discuss how each frames global sociology itself as a sociological problem—one that often reproduces structural inequalities too. We then discuss what it means to frame public sociology as a global social problem from a transnational perspective and explain how doing so can contribute to greater precision in research on the complexities of, and possibilities for, social change. We suggest that such a perspective may also help identify and create networks of critical global sociologies that transcend national borders
Today’s most compelling social problems require global solutions. While this claim is not entirely new, we suggest that a series of recent developments may make a global perspective increasingly salient. The COVID-19 pandemic, the ever-more-pressing threats posed by climate change, and the need to address issues of racial justice have propelled global issues to a new level of common-sense understanding. As Karl Mannheim (1970) suggested, historical events can shape the experience and perspective of generations. We feel that the combination of the pandemic, climate change, and Black Lives Matter may coalesce to shape the future of sociology. This may well be a moment in which there is a turn toward issues of global social justice, not just for one segment of sociologists, but for the discipline as whole. In this chapter, we argue for more attention to global issues in terms of research, teaching, and activism.
The global COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 showed that some social issues are irreducibly global in scope. New waves of COVID-19 break out in localities and countries around the world as our global economic and social system makes it exceedingly difficult to cordon off nations, even geographically isolated places, such as New Zealand.
The pandemic also demonstrated the power of international scientific cooperation in compelling new ways: biomedical scientists have collaborated with remarkable speed across national borders; detailed genetic analyses revealed the direction of international flows of the infection; scientists shared data on genome sequences; international consortia collaborated on vaccine research; and clinical vaccine trials enrolled patients from multiple countries.
In April 2013, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to questioning about a thwarted terrorist attack by claiming: “It’s time to treat these things as serious threats…. this is not a time to commit sociology” (National Post, 2013). At the time, he and then-candidate Justin Trudeau had debated the merits of looking for root causes to social problems. Instead, Harper held fast to his administration’s focus on punishing more criminals with harsher sentences to stop crime. His colleague, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, doubled down on Harper’s anti-intellectualism, suggesting that while there is nothing necessarily wrong with trying to understand why terrorism happens, he deduced, “The root cause of terrorism is terrorists” (Fitzpatrick, 2013).
Just over a year later, Harper would reiterate his “penal populism” (Pratt, 2007) in the case of a murdered Native Canadian teen, Tina Fontaine. Despite the demand of Canadian First Nations for a federal inquiry into the disappearance of over 1,100 aboriginal women, Harper insisted that these were each individual criminal cases, not a “sociological phenomenon.” As social scientist and nongovernmental organization (NGO) activist Craig Jones (2015) explained, penal populism represents: [the right-wing] politicization of criminal justice and drug policy for short-term electoral advantage combined with a sympathetic— but largely content-free—discourse about “victims” amounting to a degradation of our justice system…. [It is] characterized by open hostility toward evidence, disdain for harm reduction, and contempt for science, and disinterest in what works to limit the damage from incarceration, drug prohibition and drug use.
School segregation—the uneven distribution of students across schools, based on their socioeconomic status (SES), sex, race/ethnicity, or other ascribed characteristics—has important implications for educational inequality, social cohesion, and intergenerational mobility (Bonal and Bellei, 2019). While this topic has drawn special attention in the US, due, in part, to the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court case, between-school segregation is a concern to policymakers and researchers worldwide. School segregation by race dominates much of the research on this topic in the US, but studies of school segregation by SES predominate internationally. This chapter summarizes what we know about betweenschool segregation by SES, describing the strongest international evidence we have, drawing attention to the consequences of segregation and the benefits of integration, and concluding with a discussion of solutions. Residential segregation, migration movements, economic inequalities, and even education policies themselves have shaped a growing process of school segregation between the world’s most disadvantaged students and the wealthiest. School composition matters, and it impacts students’ short- and long-term academic and social-emotional outcomes. Student performance is more strongly related to SES than to other school compositional characteristics, such as gender, immigrant status, or race/ethnicity. Indeed, research indicates that disadvantaged students who attend schools with more affluent peers see a range of positive effects, including increased achievement, motivation, and resiliency (Van Ewijk and Sleegers, 2010; Agasisti et al, 2021). A school’s average SES is highly predictive of its academic climate and instructional quality, both factors associated with educational outcomes.