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Living in Denial

Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life

Kari Marie Norgaard

Publication Year: 2011

An analysis of why people with knowledge about climate change often fail to translate that knowledge into action.

Published by: The MIT Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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p. vii-vii

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pp. ix-xi

Despite the individualism we are taught to believe in and follow, few projects are ever completed alone. The people of Bygdaby deserve special thanks for their time, answers, interest, and patience in responding to my questions. If I offer a view of Bygdaby that is critical, it is

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pp. xiii-xix

During the fall and winter of 2000 – 2001, unusually warm weather occurred in a rural community in western Norway. November brought severe flooding across the entire region. By early December, it was established that the weather was measurably warmer than usual. The local ...

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pp. 1-12

Environmental and social scientific communities alike have identified the failure of public response to global warming as a significant quandary. Most existing explanations emphasize lack of information (people don ’ t know enough information; climate science is too complex to follow; or ...

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1. Boundaries and Moral Environmental and Order: An Introduction to Life in Bygdaby

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pp. 13-32

Culture and everyday life organize people ’ s experience of our world (including larger global events such as climate change) in different ways. Some features of culture and everyday life — such as the belief in science, high newspaper readership, and the prevalence of political ...

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2. “Experiencing” Global Warming

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pp. 33-62

Ulrich Beck (1992) argues that we now live in a “ risk society, ” or a society preoccupied with risk. If so, in what sense are people preoccupied? In their daily lives? If people are so preoccupied, why is this concern not visible? If community members consider global warming a ...

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3 “People Want to Protect Themselves a Little Bit”: The Why of Denial

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pp. 63-96

I am far from the first person to be puzzled by public silence in the face of climate change. On the contrary, environmental sociologists (e.g., Ungar 1992; Kempton, Boster, and Hartley 1996; Dunlap 1998; Rosa 2001; Brechin 2003, 2008), social psychologists (Halford and Sheehan ...

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4. The Cultural Tool Kit, Part One: Cultural Norms of Attention, Emotion, and Conversation

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pp. 97-136

I have now described both the invisibility of climate change in Bygdaby as well as what people told me about why they did not want to think about it. But we must remember that the word ignore is a verb. Ignoring something — especially ignoring a problem that is both important and ...

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5. The Cultural Tool Kit, Part Two: Telling Stories of Mythic Nations

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pp. 137-176

While waiting for the train one afternoon, I spent a few minutes browsing through the postcard rack at the station. This postcard rack was located in one of the areas of town most frequented by tourists (most of whom are international). The rack displayed the images that Bygdaby ...

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6. Climate Change as Background Noise in the United States

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pp. 177-206

I have examined the lived reality of public silence in one Norwegian town at the beginning of this century, looking at how climate change was present in people’s minds but in a fleeting and unfocused manner, observing differences between front-stage invisibility of the problem and backstage ...

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pp. 207-230

The view from Bygdaby has portrayed global warming as an issue about which people care and have considerable information, but one about which they don’t really want to know and in some sense don’t know how to know. We have watched how community members collectively ...

Appendix A: Methods

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pp. 231-242

Appendix B: List of People in Bygdaby Interviewed and Quoted

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pp. 243-244


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pp. 245-248


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pp. 249-264


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pp. 265-279

E-ISBN-13: 9780262295772
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262015448

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2011