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People's understandings, perceptions of, and emotions towards climate change

Iniguez Gallardo, Maria Veronica (2017) People's understandings, perceptions of, and emotions towards climate change. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:66946)

Abstract

Climate change is a global issue; one whose perception involves an ontological status whereby multiple perspectives enact its existence. Whilst biophysical scientific disciplines, such oceanography or conservation biology, have presented objective evidence of this climatic phenomenon, social science disciplines, such as sociology, politics, or psychology, have sought to explain how climate change is perceived and addressed by people. This thesis is about this subjective facet of climate change. It endeavours to engage with the worldwide interest in comprehending how people build their understanding and knowledge of climate change, but also takes a step further to investigate peoples' perception of climate change adaptation and look at emotional responses in respect to this climate issue. The specific aim of my research is therefore to provide insights that could be of value in enhancing our understanding of how people engage with climate change.

Because most studies of peoples' knowledge and perceptions of climate change have been conducted with segments of the general public in the United States, Europe, and Australia, I decided to focus my study on a rather different society, namely that of my own nation, Ecuador. Moreover, here the interest was to investigate a rural community and to contrast the resulting data with those gathered from a sample of academic conservationists worldwide.

In terms of the approach to the study, in being committed to allowing participants the agency to define how they themselves understand this climatic phenomenon, I employed a mixed-mode approach that incorporated qualitative and quantitative data gathering instruments, including face-to-face and online questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and participant observation.

My findings provide a unique insight into the perspectives and realities that form the study populations' understandings of climate change. They suggest that despite the global nature of climate change, it is multiple local and individual realities that ultimately determine peoples' engagement with it. I conclude that action preferences, namely mitigation or adaptation to climate change, tend to be predominantly moderated by people's demographic background. I also suggest a tendency among urban dwellers to perceive climate change as an issue that cannot be tackled individually. Furthermore, because the international trend to cope with climate change highlights the relevance of 'resilience thinking', I argue that the results of my thesis can usefully inform the process of advising policy makers and when developing awareness-raising and educational programmes on climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Tzanopoulos, Joseph
Thesis advisor: Bride, Ian
Uncontrolled keywords: Climate change, perceptions, understandings, emotions, constructivism, academic conservationists, Ecuador
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 08 May 2018 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2020 08:01 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/66946 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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