“There’s a lot of deep:” exploring worldviews, emotions, and denial around political action for climate change
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SubjectCivic engagement; Ecopsychology; Individualism; Political action; Psychoanalytically informed methods; Worldviews
This study explores the cognitive and emotional complications – worldviews, denial, and emotional responses – that prevent concerned citizens from engaging collectively for structural solutions to climate change. Using psychoanalytically informed methods, I conducted two interviews with five environmentally-conscious adults in Vancouver, BC. The first interview used a biographical narrative interview method (BNIM), while the second interview used a qualitative semi-structured method. Participants’ pro-environmental actions focused on individual lifestyle changes or persuading others, with worldview assumptions of individualism, Enlightenment reasoning, selective systemic thinking, and negative social norms. By wavering between overconfidence and under-confidence in the power of individual actions, participants expressed some denial. Participants also felt overwhelmed, were frustrated, and experienced loss. These factors limited their desire and ability to engage collectively. For environmental communicators, these findings can inform a new strategy that focuses on empowering citizens to confront their emotions and assumptions in order to engage collectively for systemic solutions.
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