Habitus and climate change: Exploring support and resistance to sustainable welfare and social-ecological transformations in Sweden

Br J Sociol. 2021 Sep;72(4):874-890. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12887. Epub 2021 Aug 18.


We explore peoples' dispositions and practices with regard to social-ecological transformations based on a sustainable welfare policy strategy in Sweden. We draw on Bourdieu's concept of habitus to highlight the relations between social positions, dispositions, and position-takings. Using data from an own survey, we identify habitus types and place these in the space of social positions. We apply principal component analysis to a large set of questions about social, ecological, and climate change related topics and identify eight underlying eco-social dispositions. These are used for cluster analyses that find typical constellations of eco-social dispositions within the Swedish population: variants of eco-social habitus. We find seven habitus types and describe their social characteristics, political preferences, and practices. Finally, the seven habitus are plotted onto the map of social positions, the Bourdieusian social space, highlighting their relations-proximities, tensions, and contestations-to each other. We find evidence that political struggles around social-ecological transformations reproduce existing social structures but are also connected to new "eco-social" divisions that appear between groups in similar positions. In the conclusion we discuss the implications for social-ecological transformations based on sustainable welfare.

Keywords: Bourdieu; climate change; habitus; relational sociology; social-ecological transformations; sustainable welfare.

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Humans
  • Social Environment*
  • Sweden