Social Science and Sustainability

Edited by Heinz Schandl and Iain Walker
September 2017
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    18th September 2017
  • ISBN 9781486306404
  • Language English
  • Pages 232 pp.
  • Size 6.625" x 9.625"
  • Images figures

Sustainability policies shape the ways that society and the economy interact with the environment, natural resources, and ecosystems, and they address issues such as water, energy, food security, and climate change. These policies are complex and, at times, obscured by contestation, uncertainty, and sometimes ignorance. Ultimately, sustainability problems are social problems, and they need to be addressed through social and policy change.

Social Science and Sustainability draws on the wide-ranging experience of CSIRO’s social scientists in the sustainability policy domain. These researchers have extensive experience in addressing complex issues of society–nature relationships, usually in interdisciplinary collaboration with natural scientists. This book describes some of the evidence-based concepts, frameworks, and methodologies they have developed, which may guide a transition to sustainability. Contributions range from exploring ways to enhance livelihoods and alleviate poverty to examining Australians’ responses to climate change, to discussing sociological perspectives on sustainability, and how to make policy relevant.

Researchers, policy-makers and decision-makers around the globe will find this book a valuable and thought-provoking contribution to the sustainability literature. It is also suited to academics and students in postgraduate-level courses in social sciences and sustainability, or in courses in applied sociology, applied social psychology and other applied social sciences.


1 Introduction – Heinz Schandl and Iain Walker

2 Why do we need a sociology of society’s natural relations to inform sustainable development? – Heinz Schandl

3 Integration science for impact: fostering transformations towards sustainability – Ro Hill, Cathy Robinson, Petina Pert, Marcus Barber, Ilisapeci Lyons, Kirsten Maclean, Leah Talbot and Catherine Moran

4 Integrating development studies and social-ecological systems thinking: towards livelihood adaptation pathways – James R.A. Butler, Liana J. Williams, Toni Darbas, Tanya Jakimow, Kirsten Maclean and Clemens Grünbühel

5 Remote, marginal and sustainable? The key role of brokers and bridging institutions for stronger Indigenous livelihoods in Australia’s deserts – Jocelyn Davies, Yiheyis T. Maru, Fiona Walsh and Josie Douglas

6 Sustainability science, place and regional differences: vulnerability and adaptive capacity in Sydney – Tom Measham, Bruce Taylor and David Fleming

7 A hierarchy of needs for achieving impact in international Research for Development – James R.A. Butler, Toni Darbas, Jane Addison, Erin L. Bohensky, Lucy Carter, Michaela Cosijn, Yiheyis T. Maru, Samantha Stone-Jovicich, Liana J. Williams and Luis C. Rodriguez

8 The co-construction of environmental (instream) flows and associated cultural ecosystem benefits – Rosalind H. Bark, Cathy J. Robinson, Sue E. Jackson and Karl W. Flessa

9 Dipping in the well: how behaviours and attitudes influence urban water security – Anneliese Spinks, Kelly Fielding, Aditi Mankad, Rosemary Leonard, Zoe Leviston and John Gardner

10 Making sense of Australians’ responses to climate change: insights from a series of five national surveys – Iain Walker, Zoe Leviston, Rod McCrea, Jennifer Price and Murni Greenhill

11 Innovation, sustainability and the promise of inclusion – Lucy Carter

12 Risk, sustainability and time: sociological perspectives – Stewart Lockie and Catherine Mei Ling Wong

13 Policy-relevant research: improving the value and impact of the social sciences – Brian W. Head


Heinz Schandl

Heinz Schandl has a PhD in sociology. He is a senior scientist at CSIRO in Canberra, an honorary professor at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, an adjunct professor at Nagoya University in Japan, and a member of the UNEP International Resource Panel. His research connects social theory, social metabolism and environment and sustainability policy.

Iain Walker

Iain Walker is a social psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Canberra. He was formerly a senior principal research scientist at CSIRO and Research Program Leader of the Social and Economic Sciences Program.