Planetary Social ThoughtThe Anthropocene Challenge to the Social Sciences
Planetary Social Thought
The Anthropocene Challenge to the Social Sciences

The Anthropocene has emerged as perhaps <i>the</i> scientific concept of the new millennium. Going further than earlier conceptions of the human–environment relationship, Anthropocene science proposes that human activity is tipping the whole Earth system into a new state, with unpredictable consequences. Social life has become a central ingredient in the dynamics of the planet itself. 

How should the social sciences respond to the opportunities and challenges posed by this development? In this innovative book, Clark and Szerszynski argue that social thinkers need to revise their own presuppositions about the social: to understand it as the product of a dynamic planet, self-organizing over deep time. They outline ‘planetary social thought’: a transdisciplinary way of thinking social life with and through the Earth. Using a range of case studies, they show how familiar social processes can be radically recast when looked at through a planetary lens, revealing how the world-transforming powers of human social life have always depended on the forging of relations with the inhuman potentialities of our home planet.

Presenting a social theory of the planetary, this book will be essential reading for students and scholars interested in humanity’s relation to the changing Earth.

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  • December 2020
  • 256 pages
  • 158 x 232 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509526345
  • Paperback $26.95
  • 9781509526352
  • Open eBook $22.00
  • 9781509526383
Table of Contents
Introduction: What Planet Are You On? 
Chapter 1: Earth at the Threshold 
Chapter 2: Who Speaks through the Earth? 
Chapter 3: Planetary Social Life in the Making 
Chapter 4: What is Planetary Social Thought? 
Chapter 5: Inhuman Modernity, Earthly Violence 
Chapter 6: Terra Mobilis 
Chapter 7: Unearthing Worlds, Decolonizing the Planet 
Chapter 8: Conclusion
About the Author

Nigel Clark is Professor of Human Geography at Lancaster University.

Bronislaw Szerszynski is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University.

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"We hear a lot about the global environmental crisis, but do we have the ideas to get us out of the problems we have collectively created? Planetary Social Thought challenges social scientists and humanists to rebuild their intellectual house so as to help humanity think anew about a world to come."
Noel Castree, University of Manchester

Planetary Social Thought is a wide-ranging exploration of how closely intertwined, and how mutually sensitive, are the human and geological realms. This vivid and passionately argued book can help illuminate these new, emergent landscapes, and chart a path through them.”
Jan Zalasiewicz, University of Leicester

“This book offers a terra-forming analysis, strongly willed to make us think. Using more than one analytic perspective at once--geos and bios and what exceeds both--its scope ranges topologically from the planet to the microbe. Planetary Social Thought is a feat of writing—and it is not afraid of animisms!”
Marisol de la Cadena, University of California, Davis

Planetary Social Thought takes the challenge of the Anthropocene to a new level. Rather than simply adopting a social science view of the planet, the authors allow planetary forces to redefine the very sense of the social, and allow the planet to take its place in the contested space of social entities. Clark and Szerszynski have redefined what “thought” will be for the twenty-first century.”
Claire Colebrook, Pennsylvania State University

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