Cover of Living in Denial by Kari Norgaard

Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life

By Kari Marie Norgaard
MIT Press, 2011


Mike Hulme “A Town Called Bygdaby” Reviewed in Nature Climate Change

Samantha MacBride Review of Living in Denial in Contemporary Sociology

Michael Maniates “Everyday Possibilities” Book review essay in Global Environmental Politics


“This is an original and extremely important intellectual contribution. The analysis of social responses to climate change information has primarily focused on individual values and beliefs. Norgaard’s work moves beyond this individualistic focus and brings a social dimension to the analysis of climate denial. She demonstrates that climate denial is a social process in which collective actions are taken to restore a sense of equilibrium and social stability. This book advances our understanding of climate denial and lays the ground for new approaches to climate change communication.”

Robert J. Brulle, Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science, Drexel University

“Drawing on the way Norwegians deal with the reality of global warming, Kari Norgaard provides an incisive account of the way individuals’ avoidance patterns reflect social norms of feeling, attending, and discourse. As such, this book is an important step in the development of our sociological understanding of denial.”

Eviatar Zerubavel, Board of Governors Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University
Author of Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology
and The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life

“One of the great unanswered questions in politics is, why is there not more mobilization about more issues? People see all sorts of things they dislike; why don’t they do more to change them? ‘Free riding’ is hardly a sufficient answer. Kari Marie Norgaard provides a much better, ethnographic account by looking at a remote town in Norway, whose citizens work hard to deny the threat posed by global warming. One of the most surprising findings is the amount of emotion work they do to keep from facing up to climate change. Unfortunately for our future, but fortunately for the power of this book, ‘Bygdaby’ is the world we all inhabit.”

James M. Jasper, CUNY Graduate Center

“Kari Norgaard has written a rigorous and insightful account about a subtle and profound social problem that confronts the mitigation of climate change–namely, the cognitive and social tools used to deny or ignore a problem even when the populace agrees it should be addressed. The population of Bygdaby holds a solid national image of itself as a humanitarian, egalitarian, nature-loving people who love their snow. Yet they fail to even think coherently about climate change. This startling mismatch makes the storyline of the book quite engaging, and it will undoubtedly be recognized for making an important contribution by explaining how this mismatch is socially produced.”

Peter Jacques, Department of Political Science, University of Central Florida

Living in Denial is particularly interesting because of the ethnographic research methods employed, which are unusual in such a field as global climate change. We gain a rich understanding of how people react to information about climate change. This book shows why information-rich programs are inadequate to get the general populace to take action to address this most serious of issues.”

Randolph Haluza-DeLay, Department of Sociology, The King’s University College, Edmonton
Co-editor of Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada