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“We are a Bit Blind About it”: A Qualitative Analysis of Climate Change-Related Perceptions and Communication Across South African Communities


Schäfer, Mike S; Siegen, Dario; Mahl, Daniela (2020). “We are a Bit Blind About it”: A Qualitative Analysis of Climate Change-Related Perceptions and Communication Across South African Communities. Environmental Communication, 14(6):802-815.

Abstract

Climate change-related perceptions and communication are important factors influencing people’s support for climate change policies and individual behavior. Since research on both climate change-related perceptions and communication is biased towards Western countries and standardized research methodologies, this paper investigates perceptions across South African communities using a deductive-inductive qualitative approach. 20 individuals in three communities of a South African town were interviewed about their climate change-related perceptions and communication. Results show that for individual concepts of climate change, interviewees’ perceptions differed across the communities: higher educated communities had more differentiated and diverse conceptions of causes and consequences of climate change and potential countermeasures. Most interviewees, across the communities, stressed that they considered climate change as an important problem, although other social problems seemed more pressing. Interestingly, all three communities most frequently encounter the issue of climate change through new and traditional mass media, but their self-assessed knowledge about it varies widely.

Abstract

Climate change-related perceptions and communication are important factors influencing people’s support for climate change policies and individual behavior. Since research on both climate change-related perceptions and communication is biased towards Western countries and standardized research methodologies, this paper investigates perceptions across South African communities using a deductive-inductive qualitative approach. 20 individuals in three communities of a South African town were interviewed about their climate change-related perceptions and communication. Results show that for individual concepts of climate change, interviewees’ perceptions differed across the communities: higher educated communities had more differentiated and diverse conceptions of causes and consequences of climate change and potential countermeasures. Most interviewees, across the communities, stressed that they considered climate change as an important problem, although other social problems seemed more pressing. Interestingly, all three communities most frequently encounter the issue of climate change through new and traditional mass media, but their self-assessed knowledge about it varies widely.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:Climate change, perceptions of climate change, media use and information sources, South Africa, qualitative interviews, Global South
Language:English
Date:17 August 2020
Deposited On:18 Feb 2021 09:28
Last Modified:19 Feb 2021 21:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1752-4032
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2020.1736116

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