Legal culture and climate change adaptation: an agenda for research

Eric Hoddy*, Simon Halliday, Jonathan Ensor, Christine Wamsler, Emily Boyd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While climate change adaptation research has increasingly focused on aspects of culture, a systematic treatment of the role of legal culture in how communities respond to climate risk has yet to be produced. This is despite the fact that law and legal authority are implicated in most, if not all, of the ways in which actors seek to reduce the risks posed to communities by climate change. Using a scoping review methodology, this article examines the intersection of climate change adaptation and legal culture in existing research. Overall, we find that the significance of legal culture for adaptation actions has been under-explored. Yet, it is also clear that a focus on legal culture holds significant promise for our understanding of climate change adaptation. We set out a research agenda for the field, highlighting the ways in which a focus on legal culture may enrich existing key themes within climate change adaptation research. This article is categorized under: Policy and Governance > Governing Climate Change in Communities, Cities, and Regions Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change > Institutions for Adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere825
Number of pages15
JournalWIREs Climate Change
Early online date6 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors.
The authors would like to thank the Vetenskapsrådet (VR), Sweden, which funded this research as part of the TRANSIST project, “From everyday forms of resistance to transformational climate change adaptation of the urban poor.”


  • legal actors
  • legal attitudes
  • legal consciousness
  • legal pluralism
  • legal practices

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