The Inner work at work : researching emotional and affective dimensions within employee sustainability programs
Dempsey, Olive Alicia Belyn
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Subjectclimate change communication; ecopsychology; employee engagement; environmental sustainability; pscho-social studies
This research explores the emotional and affective experiences of staff volunteers who lead environmental sustainability initiatives in their workplaces. My in-depth interviews and analysis are situated in a psychoanalytically and psycho-socially oriented approach to environmental engagement, which assumes that difficult emotions associated with the ecological realities of our time are negotiated at conscious and unconscious levels, using a variety of defensive practices. Through interviews with six volunteers, a Framework has been developed that outlines specific Defensive Strategies, Emotional Complications, and Core Needs that characterize participants' experiences of workplace environmental leadership. Findings suggest that a holistic approach to environmental engagement practices needs to address the Emotional Complications related to Social Cost, Environmentalist Identities, Inherent Complicity in perpetuating harm, and Scope and Scale of the Problem. They further suggest that linear and causally oriented assumptions about factors that lead to pro-environmental action are an overly simplified approach to a more complex story.
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