Exploring views on climate change and how it should be addressed: what role is played by the discussion of mitigation strategies and the experience of extreme climatic conditions?

Becker, Sarah (2017) Exploring views on climate change and how it should be addressed: what role is played by the discussion of mitigation strategies and the experience of extreme climatic conditions? Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Some sociologists have suggested that focusing on individual behaviour change
to reduce emissions detracts attention from larger structural issues. The first part of this
thesis draws on mixed methods (1 interview study and 3 experimental studies) to look at
the relationship between views on individual and structural levels of climate change
mitigation. Interviewees mostly suggested individual behaviour change as a means for
addressing climate change. The subsequent experimental studies investigate to what
extent support for structural level change is minimised by focusing attention on
individual behaviour change, but no such evidence emerged. However, there are other
unexpected outcomes: for example, participants judge recycling to be one of the most
impactful behaviours, illustrating that people’s judgements of effective climate change
mitigation may need revising.

The second part of the thesis relates to suggestions that lack of personal
experience of climate change partly explains people’s inaction. Drawing on fieldwork
consisting of 77 interviews conducted in California on people’s experience of drought, I
firstly explore how people experience the drought itself; such as what changes they note
and how drought perceptions are influenced by location. Secondly, I discuss whether
and why people tend to think that drought and climate change are related or not.
Importantly, people mostly interpret the drought according to their pre-existing climate
change beliefs, so that if they already believed climate change was happening then the
drought is treated as further evidence, whereas those who were sceptical of climate
change usually see the drought as part of a natural cycle. In conjunction these studies
expand the existing literature on views towards climate change mitigation and the role
that personal experience plays in understandings of climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography > GB0400 Geomorphology. Landforms. Terrain > GB0447 Climatic geomorphology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences > GE300 Environmental management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2017 10:55
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2017 10:55
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70225

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