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Über dieses Buch

This book explores the idea that daily lived experiences of climate change are a crucial missing link in our knowledge that contrasts with scientific understandings of this global problem. It argues that both kinds of knowledge are limiting: the sciences by their disciplines and lived experiences by the boundaries of everyday lives. Therefore each group needs to engage the other in order to enrich and expand understanding of climate change and what to do about it.

Complemented by a rich collection of examples and case studies, this book proposes a novel way of generating and analysing knowledge about climate change and how it may be used. The reader is introduced to new insights where the book:

• Provides a framework that explains the variety of simultaneous, co-existing and often contradictory perspectives on climate change.
• Reclaims everyday experiential knowledge as crucial for meeting global challenges such as climate change.
• Overcomes the science-citizen dichotomy and leads to new ways of examining public engagement with science. Scientists are also human beings with lived experiences that filter their scientific findings into knowledge and actions.
• Develops a ‘public action theory of knowledge’ as a tool for exploring how decisions on climate policy and intervention are reached and enacted.

While scientists (physical and social) seek to explain climate change and its impacts, millions of people throughout the world experience it personally in their daily lives. The experience might be bad, as during extreme weather, engender hostility when governments attempt mitigation, and sometimes it is benign. This book seeks to understand the complex, often contradictory knowledge dynamics that inform the climate change debate, and is written clearly for a broad audience including lecturers, students, practitioners and activists, indeed anyone who wishes to gain further insight into this far-reaching issue.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: A Wealth of Lived Experience

Abstract
We need to understand better the societal responses to the idea and reality of climate change. Analysis of lived experiences enables us to embark on that task. Lived experiences, however, even when we try to make sense of them as collective experiences, are extremely diverse. This chapter describes and analyses the experiences of flood victims in affluent countries, vulnerable forest communities in two poor countries, opposition to mitigation attempts, and two environmental activists. From these it creates a conceptualisation that is based on the interplay of broad contextual influences, proximate influences resulting from climate-related events, and the human capacity to reflect and learn from action and engagement with one another. It ends by providing three building blocks for the book as a whole: the conceptualisation that it has generated, the comparison with dominant scientific accounts of climate change, and the challenge of public engagement, action and policy for intervention.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 2. Exploring the Lived Experience of Climate Change

Abstract
This chapter extends the conceptual and theoretical arguments presented in Chap. 1. It introduces lived experience as a rich and complex narrative, set within societal structures which constrain and/or enable individuals to make sense of climate change. In questioning ‘whose knowledge counts’ from this vantage point of view, we suggest that lived experiences of climate change provide insights and knowledge that go beyond scientific or academically presented knowledge. This experiential knowledge evolves through historical processes and is shaped through a variety of social contexts, both general and specific, between groups (Northern, Southern, rich, poor) and individuals (often defined by race, gender). It is also shaped by our personal and collective positioning in society and the scale of events that affect us. The valuable insights and the diversity can only add to existing knowledge of climate change and influence policy and practice in an inclusive way. In this, the chapter focuses on lived experiences in developing countries, the large majority of whose populations are poor and where climate change issues are linked to and subsumed within embedded poverty.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 3. Lived Experience and Scientific Knowledge of Climate Change

Abstract
Classically, scientific approaches to knowledge, and specifically that of climate change, proceed through systematic collection and investigation of empirical data to establish patterns, and controlled experimentation to demonstrate the truth or otherwise of generalisations, such as ‘Human beings are mostly responsible for contemporary climate change’. Scientific approaches also reduce phenomena to their constituent parts, and analyse them independently through subject specialisms, or disciplines, before putting them back together again. Through these controlled processes, science claims to be objective, bringing us closer to reality. Lived experience, on the other hand, proceeds largely through dialectics—the debating of opinions. It is clearly subjective, but nevertheless presents complementary realities. This chapter further argues that (1) Science (natural and social) and lived experiences are each partial versions of reality. The former is limited by the epistemological boundaries that are placed around the subject specialisms that discipline us into certain ways of thinking about phenomena. Lived experience is by definition limited by the practice of everyday life. (2) Science also proceeds through challenge by other scientists of interpretation of empirical results, often starting from different premises. This process is not dissimilar to the dialectics that characterise the process of lived experience. (3) Scientific challenge in relation to climate change is often not neutral or benign. It is seized upon politically to attempt to neutralise the power of scientific evidence in climate change policy debates. (4) The institutionalised perception among scientists themselves that their knowledge is superior, however, leads to significant challenges of working together to generate a more holistic approach to climate change, as illustrated by a personal story of one of the authors.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 4. Representing Climate Change: Science, Social Science, Interdisciplinary Approaches and Lived Experience

Abstract
Climate change has until now been represented mainly by the natural, especially physical, sciences. While this has generated impressive insights and placed the challenge firmly on national and international public agendas, it is an incomplete representation (as suggested in Chap. 3), albeit a powerful one among decision-making institutions. Issues arise through the insistence of a deterministic ‘scientific method’ and with underlying assumptions concerning empiricism and positivist objectivity. Qualitative social science, with its mixed methods approach and positive view of subjectivity to reveal fresh insights, provides a significant complement to natural science with respect to the human dimensions of climate change. The topic, however, is too complex a problem to be represented by natural and social sciences disciplines alone. Drawing on the concept of climate change as a ‘wicked problem’, the chapter moves towards advocacy of an interdisciplinary approach that draws on disciplinary interfaces and grounds itself in everyday lived experiences. This approach has the potential to be inclusive of diverse voices and their experiential, as well as scientific, knowledge to create a more complete representation of climate change. Issues remain, however, concerning the politics of representation in terms of whose lived experiences are included/excluded and the ways in which they are represented by different actors.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 5. Lived Experience and the Advocates of Local Knowledge

Abstract
Local knowledge is promoted by many as a key component of designing and implementing interventions on climate change, especially interventions that aim to adapt to changing climatic conditions. It is seen to result in interventions that are appropriate to and work in local contexts. It also demonstrates to policy makers that poor and vulnerable communities have innovative agency, and are thus empowered by their local knowledge. Nowhere are these facets better illustrated than in the annual Community-based Adaptation Conferences that are organised by the International Institute of Environment and Development. Challenges arise, however, when locals and outside professional experts attempt to share their different forms of knowledge to design and implement interventions on climate change. Formal participatory processes are intended to meet these challenges, but they are not immune from enduring power relations between insider and outsider and possible exploitive uses of local knowledge. Beyond practical intervention, local knowledge may be seen as linked to the identity of, especially, vulnerable groups in rural areas of poor countries. Here there are particular issues of passing local knowledge from one generation to the next. Finally, local knowledge is a manifestation of lived experience. Local knowledge may also, with care, be sometimes appropriate as a proxy indicator for lived experience, but should not be viewed as synonymous with it. Lived experience is not necessarily restricted to local circumstance and it extends beyond practical application in, say, climate change interventions.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 6. Lived Experience and Discourses of Mitigation, Adaptation

Abstract
Mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change have been major themes of United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) periodic reports since their inception. A review of the 2007 and 2014 reports, however, finds that the IPCC coverage of mitigation and adaptation, while increasingly extensive and drawing on both the social and natural sciences, restricts itself largely to a discourse that is driven by the physical phenomenon of climate change. There is no discussion, for example, of how the lifestyle and behavioural changes that it advocates in these reports may be achieved, and no substantive related discussion of the difficult political processes that inevitably underlie all intervention and which are crucial for their popular legitimacy. A lived experience lens inherently draws attention to these issues and to the current dominant underlying framing of climate change as a threat that requires a war and sacrifice in the present for future prosperity.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 7. Lived Experience and Engagement on Climate Change

Abstract
Within the dominant overarching ‘threat and war’ frame of climate change are nested many specific frames. One of these concerns the public will to know and act on climate change which, itself’ has three broad problem dimensions that both overlap with each other and are partly oppositional. First, there is a perceived problem of communication of climate science which in earlier formulations could be addressed through more effective, targeted dissemination. More recently, however, it has been argued that deliberative processes of engagement between scientific and lay actors are required. Second, there is the nature of multiple perspectives that lead to disagreement on climate change and the question of how such disagreement may be put to the productive use. Third, is the resistance to engaging with disturbing information, except in an abstract way, through social norms of attention that shape what we think and talk about, and which lead to socially organised denial of climate change. Social norms of attention may be seen as placing limiting epistemological boundaries around lived experiences and hence a challenge for the fundamental argument of this book that views them as a positive resource.
Dina Abbott, gordon Wilson

Chapter 8. Lived Experience, Science and a Social Imagination

Abstract
It is important to expand the boundaries imposed by social norms of attention around lived experiences in order to generate a broader and deeper knowledge about pressing social issues, such as climate change, and thereby regain power to set public agendas. For similar reasons it is equally important in academia to establish interdisciplinary endeavours between the scientific (natural and social) disciplines. A combination of the hermeneutic and emancipatory knowledge interests that are elaborated by Jürgen Habermas, and the sociological (which we reframe as ‘social’) imagination of C. Wright Mills are two complementary expressions of this broader and deeper knowledge. In either case, it develops through purposeful transboundary engagement of actors, that is, engagement between diverse lived experiences, between the different social and natural science disciplines, and between lived experiences and the scientific disciplines. Productive transboundary engagement is a challenge, however, requiring mutual trust, shared experience, continual reinforcement, structured discussion with trigger topics and facilitation.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 9. Rationalist and Public Action Theories of Knowledge in Climate Change Debates

Abstract
Whatever our uncertainty about climate change knowledge, what matters is how we respond to this and what action we take. Devising appropriate action for policy for climate change generates much debate and disagreement. This chapter discusses differing approaches to policy making for climate change, beginning with dominant rationalist, mostly linear, approaches. It suggests that both scientific positive and normative assertions that are embedded in a rationalist approach are also reflected and reinforced through discussions, often heated, on action and policy making. However, prescriptive linear policy ‘from above’, surfacing from a ‘nanny state’, is often resented by the public. Policy also needs public support which determines how far governments can enforce it when there are several tensions around finding common ground, conflicts over resource priorities and ethical and moral issues of social justice and equity. Also, individual rationalisation based on personal perceptions and lived experience can be more powerful, overriding, challenging and cancelling rationalist contention. Altogether, such considerations generate several problems for a linear rationalist approach. For these reasons, a preferred alternative is a non-linear public action approach which arguably has a better, wider fit with how policy is actually made. In this approach, policy at all scales is a perpetual social process of being made and remade, rather than shaped through an expert-led prescription. It recognises that robust policy and intervention is constructed from the engagement of both scientific knowledge and lived experiential knowledge. There are, however, real issues of power at play in such engagement, concerning whose knowledge counts, and the political use of contested knowledge to cancel evidence claims. Nevertheless, despite the challenges, difference and diversity are sources of social learning and new knowledge. As Chap. 8 has argued, we require a productive transboundary engagement and social imagination to expand knowledge boundaries. We don’t learn by being the same.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 10. Institutionalising Lived Experience in the Public Policy Process

Abstract
Reasons for institutionalising lived experience in public policy processes on climate change vary, depending on whom one asks. Government, the private sector, scientists, engineers and civil society each have different, albeit sometimes complementary and sometimes overlapping, reasons. We, the authors of this book, also have reasons, namely that institutionalisation of lived experience within the policy process:
  • Exposes the politics and power relations at play in public policy making to those whose lived experiences are being institutionalised.
  • Generates a space for joint learning and broader, deeper knowledge alongside the inputs from science
  • Exposes the dominant frames within which climate change debates are constructed
  • Provides a peg for voicing other pressing social issues that could lead to a polycentric framing
We also argue that through our institutionalised engagement with one another we come to appreciate our human and human–nature interdependence and the potential to develop a transboundary, social imagination among citizens and scientists alike. Institutionalisation, however, raises many issues. These range from basic human attributes of just how much knowledge we may hold and tell to establishing the basic conditions for productive engagement and managing enduring power relations between actors and their sources of power. The chapter ends by examining three potential ways in which we might institutionalise lived experience in public policy making on climate change:
  • Government monitoring of the social media sites that exist on the topic
  • Government-organised focus groups and interviews
  • Independent environmental action groups as have been established in Southern Africa by an NGO acting as a boundary organisation to bring civil society, scientists, the private sector and governmental actors together.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson

Chapter 11. A Public Action Approach to Knowledge and Intervention to Meet the Climate Challenge

Abstract
Lived experiences and science provide different but partial realities of climate change. Engaging lived experiences, however, does more than add another form of knowledge to the phenomenon. It adds further to our understanding of how people, as citizens, respond to the science, policy proposals and planned interventions. Lived experiences, moreover, are extremely diverse. This potentially allows for knowledge enrichment through engagement, but all too often it results in power dynamics between actors where the most powerful—which include national governments, international institutions and the corporate sector—do their utmost to define the truth of a situation and exclude much of the diversity of knowledge that actually exists. A public action approach to knowledge inherently recognises the diversity that arises from lived experiences and the power dynamics. It further illustrates how, in an interdependent world, no group’s power is absolute and even the most vulnerable are able to lever a place on the climate change agenda at all scales, through instrumental sharing for mutual gain and political legitimacy agendas, alliances with others, NGOs and value-based social movements. We recognise, however, the unruly, messy process of knowledge construction that makes public action what it is. There are possibilities for institutionalising it to some extent and making it less unruly, but they depend on policy makers engaging in a process that shares, rather than simply extracts, knowledge, and on engaging lived experiences from diverse social groups. The potential prize for productive engagement is a collective transboundary social imagination that enables citizens to establish the public agenda surrounding climate change.
Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson
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