Document Type


Publication Date

August 2015

Publication Title

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting


Inequality and Stratification | Place and Environment | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


Hurricane Sandy was a major event with major implications for how sociologists think about the relationship between climate change and crisis in urban areas. The storm’s impact on New York provides a valuable case for considering how to study the impacts of climate change on large, densely settled cities with vulnerable hard infrastructure and highly complex social conditions that produce differentiated experiences across many different communities. This working paper considers data at several levels of analysis with the aim of assessing neighborhood inequalities in the impacts of such extreme weather. Drawn from the authors’ ongoing research project on unequal vulnerability to climate change in New York after Sandy, the paper presents findings from data in three thematic areas: impacts on transportation and other vital systems; the performance of select public services, including subsidized housing and the police; and local, grassroots responses to the disaster. Across all of these factors we focus on neighborhood-level variations in storm impact and recovery. We also highlight differences between official reports on the storm’s impact and response and the accounts of community groups, activist organizations, and individuals. In doing so, we invite discussion about the most effective approaches and conceptual frameworks for the urgently important project of connecting a sociology of climate change to the study of the social experience of extreme events in major cities.


Paper presented at panel: Urban Sociology: Infrastructure and the Environment.