£15.99 | $28.95

10 January 2013
ISBN: 9781780321684
304 pages
190 x 129mm

Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Development, Economics, Geography, International Relations, Politics, Sociology and Social Policy

Societies beyond Oil

Oil Dregs and Social Futures

By John Urry

What would a de-carbonised society be like? What are the implications of a general de-globalisation for our social futures? How will our high-carbon patterns of life be restructured in a de-energized world?

As global society gradually wakes up to the new reality of peak oil, these questions remain unanswered. For the last hundred years oil made the world go round, and as we move into the century of 'tough oil' this book examines some profound consequences. It considers what societies would be like that are powering down; what lessons can be learned from the past about de-energized societies; will there be rationing systems or just the market to allocate scarce energy? Can virtual worlds solve energy problems? What levels of income and wellbeing would be likely?

In this groundbreaking book, John Urry analyzes how the twentieth century created a kind of mirage of the future that is unsustainable into even the medium term and envisions the future of an oil-dependent world facing energy descent. Without a large-scale plan B, how can the energizing of society possibly be going into reverse?


'A brilliant book. A pioneering effort to fill a yawning gap in sociology - the lack of a sociology of energy.' - Lord Giddens, Lab, House of Lords, London

'In this fascinating book John Urry writes the paradigmatic narrative of the power of oil, which made the modern dream: a highly mobile civilization. We (the globalized world) can neither live with oil nor without it. What future modernities, then, are lying beyond oil?' - Professor Ulrich Beck, Institute for Sociology, München

'One of Europe's most celebrated social thinkers offers an incisive, at times disturbing, analysis of the obstacles to breaking our civilization's carbon addiction.' - Michael Ryan Davis, Professor in Creative Writing, U. C. Riverside

' "Societies Beyond Oil" is a remarkably comprehensive survey of a huge field. To this vital subject area, John Urry brings his own unique understanding drawn from a deep study of issues around mobilities. Refreshingly clear and flowing with style, the book sparkles with insights and ideas.' - Platform, www.platformlondon.org

Table of Contents

Introduction: the problem of energy
Part I Oil dregs
1. Oil and the crash of 2007-8
2. The century of oil
3. Consuming miles
4. Carbon capital
5. Peaking
6. The Chinese century?
7. The curse of oil
Part II Social futures
8. Magic bullet future
9. Digital lives
10. Resource fights
11. Low carbon society
12. After easy oil

About the Author:

John Urry is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. Educated University of Cambridge (BA/MA Economics, PhD Sociology), he is the editor of the International Library of Sociology; Co-editor of Mobilities and Director of the Lancaster Centre for Mobilities Research. His recent books include Automobilities (2005), Mobilities, Networks, Geographies (2006), Mobilities (2007), Aeromobilities (2009), After the Car (2009), Mobile Lives (2010), Mobile Methods (2011), The Tourist Gaze 3.0 (2011) and Climate Change and Society (2011).