, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 89-104,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 May 2010

The meaning of social climate of learning environments: Some reasons why we do not care enough about it


The purpose of this article is to analyse reasons underlying the neglect of social climate in education. It discusses the relevance of the concept of social climate in learning environments, presents evidence for its effects and importance in special-needs and inclusive education, presents differences existing between settings and discusses the contribution of social climate to teachers’ professional autonomy. The arguments support the view that social climate is an essential factor in educational processes and make incomprehensible the sparse attention given to it in educational policy, research and teacher education programs. Indications of neglect in the Swedish context are presented. The resistance towards the concept of social climate is related to: dualistic and hierarchical views; characteristics of bureaucratic systems; reductionist interpretations; difficulties in handling and evaluating social values and goals; and post-modern criticism of scientific knowledge and psychology. Implications for counteracting reductive interpretations and meeting resistance and criticism are discussed.