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Public Understanding of Climate Change as a Social Dilemma

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Author(s): Stuart Bryce Capstick

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 5;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 3484;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: public perceptions | climate change | social dilemma | discourse analysis | psychology

ABSTRACT
Climate change is often referred to as one of the most complicated challenges facing humanity, characterised in various literatures as a social dilemma operating at multiple scales (individual, national, international). The present study considers the ways in which members of the public interpret climate change in these terms, drawing on data from multiple datasets, both qualitative and quantitative, from 1997 to 2011. As well as drawing out the nuances in participants’ perspectives on the social and societal dilemmas inherent to climate change, the present study also highlights the rejoinders and resolutions proposed by people to these dilemmas. It is suggested that recognition of the ways people find to navigate these difficult issues offers some cause for optimism regarding the public’s conceptualisation of, and response to, climate change.
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