Intrapersonal conflicts – lock-ins for sustainability transitions? Consequences for policies and governance
Authors: Felix Rauschmayer, Christine Polzin, Ines Omann, Ines Thronicker, Anke Fischer
Abstract: We argue that environmental governance approaches give insufficient consideration to the psychological dimension of (intentional) behavioural change. Within this dimension we focus on intrapersonal sustainability-related conflicts that may arise when people are aware that different actions have different social and environmental effects, but taking a decision for the more sustainable option may not be evident e.g. due to conflicting attitudes, values or knowledge. We herewith aim to explore new psychology-informed governance approaches that may empower people to cope individually and collectively with such conflicts in ways that foster sustainability-enhancing behaviours. We will first provide an overview of governance approaches investigating them from a psychological perspective. We will then consider their blind spots. The empirical work consisting of qualitative interviews around sustainable lifestyle initiatives in Europe will follow a grounded theory approach, keeping in mind the goal to address the potential for sustainability initiatives to scale up.
Exploring intrapersonal conflicts in sustainability transitions from an integral perspective
Authors: Ines Omann, Felix Rauschmayer
Abstract: Exploring intrapersonal conflicts in sustainability transitions from an integral perspective Sustainability transitions require changes on different levels. Some argue that they start within the individuals, starting in the inner dimension by reflecting upon values, needs or culture and leading to changes of behaviour and lifestyles. However, if individuals aim for more sustainable lifestyles they are often confronted with intrapersonal conflicts due to conflicting motivations or trade-offs between different needs. This paper aims first to explain those conflicts in more detail and second show one method, which allows addressing them in an integral way by looking underneath the behavioural level and linking the individual with the collective interior and exterior levels.
Exploring governance designs for intrapersonal sustainability transitions: the role of mindfulness
Authors: Christine Polzin, Felix Rauschmayer
Abstract: Governance theories on sustainability transitions have so far neglected the (intrapersonal) individual level and do not address questions regarding the ways in which individuals may be supported in adopting sustainable behaviours. This paper aims to bridge the gap between transition governance theories and psychology by investigating (1) what kinds of governance designs could activate caring and affiliative motivations in order to support individuals in adopting and maintaining sustainable behaviours, and (2) whether or not (if so, how) this may be facilitated through incentivising cooperation. We will focus specifically on how governance may strengthen (compassionate) mindfulness, which has been linked, inter alia, to a reduced importance on materialistic values and a greater emphasis on intrinsic aspirations, thus potentially contributing to more sustainable ways of life. The paper will be largely conceptual and theoretical in nature.
Subjectivity and Politics of Transformation in Climate Change Adaptation
Authors: David Manuel-Navarrete, Mark Pelling
Abstract: Human agents and their individual life trajectories are integral components of socio-ecological systems dynamics and adaptation pathways. In this view, climate adaptation requires attending to the subjectivities involved in deliberate (political) efforts of human agents to affect socio-ecological change. However, climate adaptation tends to emphasize system-level dynamics that appear to be independent from human subjectivity. Inspired by Margaret Archer’s work on human reflexivity, this paper explores how human agents’ internal conversations mediate socio-ecological system-level dynamics. Agents’ internal deliberations about their own lives are elicited and explored through life-story interviews and narrative analysis. The paper shows how tourism actors in Akumal, a coastal enclave in the Mexican Caribbean, construct dynamic narratives about past transformations. These evolving narratives become, in turn, part of processes leading to the next transformation. Understanding the cognitive processes involved in the construction of these narratives is crucial for addressing the political dimension of socio-ecological pathways.
Making sense of sustainability transitions locally: how action research contributes to addressing societal challenges
Authors: Niko Schäpke, Julia Wittmayer, Ines Omann, Frank Van Steenbergen
Abstract: Today’s society is facing a broad array of societal challenges, such as an unstable economic system, climate change and lasting poverty. There are no straightforward solutions, rather these challenges ask for fundamental societal changes, that is, sustainability transitions. Faced with the question of how these challenges can be understood and dealt with, we argue for action research as a promising approach. Focusing on their localized manifestations, we ask whether and how action research can support understanding and addressing societal challenges and making sustainability meaningful locally. We tackle this question on the basis of two case studies in local communities based on principles of transition management. Our main finding is that societal challenges, sustainability and sustainability transitions acquire meaning through practice and interactions in the local context. Action research can offer a space in which alternative ideas, practices and social relations can emerge to further a sustainability transition.
Getting the unpalatable message across: Matching environmental communication with expectations
Authors: Janne Hukkinen, Miklós Antal
Abstract: Since the general public resents making high personal sacrifices to deal with environmental threats, it makes sense to search for cognitively consonant framings of environmental communication. We will study whether this approach could increase support for decisions facilitating sustainability. We will conduct an Internet-based survey among Finnish and Hungarian university students in the spring of 2015 on the future of energy systems in the two countries. We choose these two countries because of their polarized energy policy discussion on renewable versus nuclear energy. We ask four respondent groups to each read one of four differently framed texts presented as an expert opinion on the nation’s future energy challenges and a particular solution to it. The respondents are then asked to present their solutions. We hypothesize that framing a cognitively dissonant environmental message in a cognitively consonant way is more likely to influence thinking and behavior than one without such framing.
Best Practice Results of interpersonal Real Life Experiments for an Integral Sustainable Way of Living. Empirical Observations in selected Ecovillages.
Authors: Iris Kunze
Abstract: One of the main observations for realizing sustainable development within modern, industrialized societies is the difference between knowledge and action; despite a high degree of knowledge and awareness lifestyle patterns, political and economic structures remain unchanged. Hence is becomes crucial to ask how we can research personal, intrapersonal and systemic options for sustainability transitions. In this contribution I condense research findings from a decade of examining ecovillage experiments in their trials for a more sustainable way of living. The approach of ecovillages has an integral potential of development because it triggers (1) transition of the individual consciousness and (2) behavior as well as (3) of the culture of communication, interaction and governance and (4) finally of the economic, structures with commons and gift economy. In conclusion, best practices of integral transition methods developed in long-term experience of ecovillages will be highlighted.
Urban Sharing: From Anecdotal Practice to Business Models
Authors: Patrycja Dlugosz, Yuliya Voytenko, Oksana Mont
Abstract: Global urbanisation aggravates environmental and social challenges but cities offer innovative solutions to unsustainable consumption. While urban sharing is a well-known phenomenon, the role of sharing business models for more sustainable living was not studied sufficiently. This article provides a better understanding of the “sharing city”, its role in enabling sustainability transitions and institutionalisation for urban sharing. Case studies include San Francisco, Berlin and Seoul. Data is collected via literature analysis and ten semi-structured interviews. Data analysis is guided by neo-institutional theory, and explores the legitimacy levels of sharing in each city. Reasons for emergence of sharing include global economy shifts, changes in attitudes to consumption and ownership, and ICT development. Urban sharing can benefit economic, environmental, social and democratic dimensions of urban communities. While a viable strategy for institutionalisation of sharing is through gaining cognitive and socio-political legitimacy, a precaution must be taken when scaling up sharing business models.