Situating climate change: Psychological distances as tool to understand the multifaceted dimensions of climate change meanings


In recent years, considerable efforts have been devoted to exploring and understanding how people attribute meaning to and engage with climate change. Although the relevance of society in regional mitigation and adaptation to climate change is now recognised, it is still not clear how local places and social climate change meanings inform each other. Taking this gap in research as a starting point, we investigate people’s ‘emplaced’ climate meanings with the approach of psychological distances (geographical, temporal and social). Using a grounded method and 36 semi-structured interviews with inhabitants of North Frisia (Germany) – a region that has always been profoundly affected by environmental change – we disentangle the different distances and proximities that permeate and create local climate change meanings. Overall, we demonstrate (1) the dynamic nature of psychological distances and proximities producing climate change meanings and we reveal (2) the importance of a place-based approach for analysing the abstract entity of climate change.
QR Code: Link to publication