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Title: 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?
Author: Becker, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 4180
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2017
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GB0447 Climatic geomorphology ; GE300 Environmental management ; HM0621 Culture