To examine and assess sociocultural or socioeconomic inertia as an impediment to effective climate change policy response and practice.
Two core concepts to climate change policy response, “resilience” and “adaptation,” are seen as critical in disaster recovery strategies and practice. As ideal types, these concepts are coalescing in theory and gaining acceptance in the professional community, but not necessarily in practice. These concepts are explored through a study of disaster recovery efforts following the West Virginia floods of 2016.
Disaster recovery strategies based on ideal forms of resilience and adaptation face significant barriers to adoption and practice. Disjunction between theory and practice constitutes one form of inertia. Other contributing factors include individual and collective behavior that resists change through social justification and insular forms of social capital. Institutional drag, in the form of waning political will and limited administrative capacity, also impedes adoption and use.
Sociocultural and socioeconomic inertia challenge the development of effective policies and practices to address climate change; social science can contribute to our understanding of these sources of constraint.