Practices of Power and Knowledge in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores how and by whom climate change is written. Although climate change has the potential to impact all ways of life, not all have the power to determine its meaning. In order to identify the actors with the symbolic power to name climate change, the basis of this authority and the activities through which shared environmental problems are named, this thesis examines one of the central sites of meaning production: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Deploying the sociological approach and thinking tools of Pierre Bourdieu, the IPCC is positioned at the centre of the international political struggle over climate change. It is from within this social location that the thesis re-constructs the actors, activities and forms of authority constituting the IPCC’s assessments of climate change as a practice of writing. In order to determine the forces structuring the IPCC’s writing of climate change the thesis identifies the actors that make up the organisation and follows the assessment report along the pathway of its formation. Documenting the report’s construction from the panel’s decision to repeat the assessment process to government approval of the final product reveals the interrelationship and reinforcing nature of scientific, political, economic, and organisational order in the IPCC’s assessment activities. As a result of these forces and the actors they empower, the meaning of climate change is being written in and through the order that generated the problem
Date of Award05 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council
SupervisorAndrew Linklater (Supervisor) & Kamila Stullerova (Supervisor)

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