Malcolm Fairbrother

Professor at Department of Sociology; Faculty

Visiting address:
Engelska parken
Thunbergsvägen 3H
Postal address:
Box 624
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I am a political sociologist, mostly studying why humanity is doing so much damage to this beautiful planet on which we (and all known life in the universe) depend--and what might be done to stop that. I also do research on trust, particularly political/institutional trust, including its consequences for public attitudes towards environmental policies. I have also investigated the origins of economic globalization, and I have developed some now widely used methods for survey data analysis.


  • climate change
  • environmental policy
  • globalization
  • multilevel modeling
  • nafta
  • political sociology
  • research methods


I've moved around a lot.

I'm originally from Vancouver, Canada. After completing a BA degree in sociology at the University of Victoria, I left Canada to study for my Masters and PhD in the U.S., also in sociology, at the University of California, Berkeley. While working on my dissertation, which asked why economic globalization happened and provided an answer through a case study of NAFTA, I spent time in Mexico City, Ottawa, and Washington DC.

Next I was a postdoc at UC San Diego for nine months, during which time I accepted a lectureship in the UK, in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. At Bristol, among other things, I helped establish a new Masters program in Environmental Policy and Management.

In 2017, I moved to Umeå University, in northern Sweden, and then in 2023 I was offered a chair in sociology at Uppsala. I have also in recent years been a researcher at the Institute for Futures Studies in Stockholm, and an affiliated professor at the University of Graz, Austria.


My main research project currently is In Search of Decoupling--a 5.5-year, international, interdisciplinary investigation of conditions under which societies perform better or worse in addressing environmental problems. We are particularly focused on climate change, but not only. The project (technically a "research environment") is funded by the Swedish Research Council, and I am the project leader.

Meanwhile, I am a co-investigator on a project about Finding popular solutions to climate change, funded by Formas and hosted at the Institute for Futures Studies, where I am a researcher.


Selection of publications

Recent publications

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Malcolm Fairbrother