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Self and world in lay interpretations of climate change


Denniss, RJ and Davison, A, Self and world in lay interpretations of climate change, International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 7, (2) pp. 140-153. ISSN 1756-8692 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Emerald Group Publishing

DOI: doi:10.1108/IJCCSM-03-2014-0046


Purpose Although awareness is growing that lay people interact with scientific knowledge about climate change in complex ways, relatively little is known about this interaction. Much quantitative research on public attitudes to climate change does little to draw out the cognitive and experiential processes by which lay people arrive at understandings of climate change. This paper reports on an in-depth qualitative study that focuses on the convergence of the interpretive activities of knowing, living in and valuing the world in lay reasoning about climate change.
Design Through narrative analysis of qualitative interviews this study examines lay rationalities of climate change as a process of not only knowing the world (epistemology), but of being oriented towards the world (ontology) and valuing the world (axiology).
Findings Findings emphasise the extent of individual variation in lay interpretations of climate change, and their internal complexity. Almost all participants display differences in reasoning about climate change when considering their personal lives as compared to the wider, public world. Distinct accounts of self and world in lay rationalities are evident in the ways that participants imagine the future and express their feelings of culpability for and responsibility to act on climate change.
Originality/Value This paper argues that lay reasoning about climate science does not just engage ways of knowing the world, but also ways of being in and valuing the world so as to open up multiple trajectories for comprehension.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:lay rationalities, everyday life, ontology, climate change, epistemology, qualitative interviews, axiology
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Social geography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Air quality, atmosphere and weather not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Denniss, RJ (Ms Bec Denniss)
UTAS Author:Davison, A (Associate Professor Aidan Davison)
ID Code:96269
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2014-10-29
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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