Climate change and industrial relations: Reflections on an emerging field

Frances Flanagan, Caleb Goods

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


What does climate change mean for the field of industrial relations? In this article, we argue that a meaningful disciplinary response to climate change requires more than simply widening the scope of industrial relations scholarship to include environmental dynamics. It demands recognition of the ways in which the categories of analysis and intellectual preoccupations of the discipline have been shaped by what we term the 'fossil capitalist inertia' exerted by their largely 20th-century origins. Climate change requires critical reflection of the extent to which industrial relations processes that were introduced to increase fairness and equality in a fossil capitalist context have the potential to contribute to different kinds of unfairness and inequality in an era of climate instability. The article identifies four frontiers of the scholarly development already underway that give effect to this conceptual enlargement: critical engagement with the concepts of (a) 'sustainable development' and (b) 'just transition' (c) analyses of reconfigured union identities and strategies and (d) discussions of the roles and influence of employer associations and state actors in labour and environmental relations and transitions. The article concludes by introducing five new articles that advance existing scholarly reflections on the challenge of a changed climate for industrial relations along each of these frontiers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-498
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Climate change and industrial relations: Reflections on an emerging field'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this