This article introduces Pierre Bourdieu’s notions of field, interest, and symbolic power into the study of global environmental politics, for the purpose of positioning the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) within the international field of climate politics. Revisiting historical accounts of the IPCC’s establishment, the article explores the IPCC’s role in generating international interest in climate change and the field of forces and struggles that has emerged around the organization and its assessment activities as a result. The IPCC continues to hold a central position within the climate field because of its symbolic power to construct the meaning of climate change. This makes the organization, its assessment activities, and the knowledge it produces central objects of struggle within the climate field, and the forces that this contestation produces structure all aspects of the IPCC and its work. The article identifies how developing-country attitudes, climate skepticism, and bandwagoning impact the IPCC’s place in climate politics and its assessments of the climate problem.


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pp. 85-104
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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