Tag Archives: perception

where do people turn when they don’t trust experts and can’t see the thing (atmosphere) we’re talking about?

“Large-scale environmental conditions especially are hidden from most people until their ecological consequences disrupt individual’s everyday routines and draw personal attention to them, or someone else informs them about what is occurring (Carolan 2004). This is particularly true of global climate change, where the ‘objective’ conditions of the Earth’s atmosphere remain transparent to most everyone except professional scientists (Garvin 2001). People mistrustful of scientists typically consult other non-scientific, cultural experts and elites, or turn to similar others for clues to interpret ambiguous situations. ”Subjective norms are positively related to both [information-]seeking and avoidance, which suggests that one’s social environment has the potential to strongly influence the way he or she handles climate change information”(Yang and Kahlor 2013). The basis for similarity depends on the salience of the group to which a person belongs. Conservative evangelical Christians likely turn to religion in forming their perceptions of global climate change. Yet substantial research conducted over decades has failed to demonstrate clear or consistent results on the association between religion and environmental concern.”

from the chapter two introduction…

“Sociological imaginations see material conditions (Marx… ), institutions (WEBER Protestant Work Ethic), structure (Giddens…), socialization (REFERENCE), interpersonal interactions (Goffman Presentation of Self), communication modes (Habermas), gender (Dorothy Smith…), sexuality (REFERENCE), and skin color (Du Bois …) all shaping our perceptions of, meanings about, and actions toward reality. The significance of individuals’ knowledge and perceptions in public opinion about environmental problems and support for environmental policy is the overarching theme I consider here.”

“In this chapter I detail aspects of sociological perspectives on social problems, religion, and environmentalism relevant to my interest in how highly religious people perceive environmental problems. I focus especially on elements of a constructionist view on social problems and the association of religion with expressions of environmental concern. I then present my analytical framework for examining how conservative Protestants view large-scale ecological conditions. I conclude with several broad research questions I explore in a case study of evangelical Christians’ perceptions of climate change.”

Jürgen Habermas during a discussion in the Mun...

Jürgen Habermas during a discussion in the Munich School of Philosophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

back to chapter one, and an attempt to boil my central argument down to a single paragraph/sentence…



Sociologists respond to the question broadly by asserting that people define reality through the prism of cultural meanings readily available to them in their everyday lives. Individuals’ capacity for the agency to perceive reality is shaped by the cultural significance of their structural positions in society, including material conditions that influence life chances, opportunities, and lifestyles. Perceptions of ecological conditions are further complicated by their ambiguous nature and susceptibility to conflicting interpretations. I contend that the human perception of ecological conditions is contingent on the interaction of the individual’s understanding of biophysical properties and the social and cultural forces impinging on that understanding.”

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A key assumption shared by policymakers and environmental activists is that people do not care about and will not support policy to address ecological conditions that they do not deem as problematic. This assumption underlies the significance of understanding the question: How do individuals come to perceive of an environmental condition as a crucial problem?”

Before the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, ...

Before the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, air pollution was not considered a national environmental problem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Activists and Scholars Debate Social Movements and Social Change