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MOBI Living in Denial

PDF ½ BOOK Living in Denial FREE é Global warming is the most significant environmental issue of our time yet public response in Western nations has been meager Why have so few taken any action? In Living in Denial sociologist Kari Norgaard searches for answers to this uestion drawing on interviews and ethnographic data from her study of Bygdaby thOw citizens of industrialized countries are responding to global warmingNorgaard finds that for the highly educated and politically savvy residents of Bygdaby global warming was both common knowledge and unimaginable Norgaard traces this denial through multiple levels from emotions to cultural norms to political economy Her report from Bygdaby supplemented by comparisons throughout the book to the United States tells a larger story behind our paralysis in the face of today's alarming predictions from climate scientists Kari Norgaard an American sociologist of Norwegian descent sets out to answer a few key uestions about social responses or lack of response to the challenge of climate changeHow are the citizens of wealthy industrialized nations responding to global warming? Why are so few people taking any sort of action? Why do some social and environmental problems result in people’s rising up when others do not? And given that many people do know the grim facts how do they manage to produce an everyday reality in which this urgent social and ecological problem is invisible?A uick word about the word denial in the title is in order Norgaard is not addressing the mainly Anglosphere US Canada UK and Australia phenomenon of rejection of mainstream climate science what she – following Stanley Cohen – refers to as literal denial the assertion that global warming isn't happening or that climate change isn't real Rather she is addressing the vexed social phenomenon whereby people who are relatively well informed about global warming and express some level of concern minimise the psychological political or moral implications of these views – what Cohen refers to as implicatory denialEssentially Norgaard argues that a process of socially organised denial allows individuals to collectively distance themselves from information because of norms of emotion conversation and attention and by which they use an existing cultural repertoire of strategies such as shared construals of time and space nearness and distance the selectivity of communal perspectives as well as local and national myths and storiesThe work is built around field study and interviews Norgaard conducted over the course of a year in a Norwegian town which is lightly fictionalised as Bygdaby after an unusually warm winter in which snowfall was at record lows and lakes failed to freeze causing significant economic and social disruption However it is clear that Norgaard's findings are relevant far beyond the town or even the boundaries of Norway and in the later stages of the book she directly addresses her findings to the situation in the USThis is a sociologically rich work that rewards careful reading and reflection It places no moral opprobrium on the denial about climate change she finds present in local and national discourse viewing much of it – rather – as a sort of survival mechanism counterproductive though it may be against troubling emotions such as guilt powerlessness or threats to individual and collective senses of identity She develops a psychology and sociology of emotions that is really interesting and her framing following the work of Nina Eliasoph of apathy as an actively constructed social response rather than passive or default position is strikingThrough a framework of socially organized denial our view shifts from one in which understanding of climate change and caring about ecological conditions and our human neighbors are in short supply to one whereby these ualities are acutely present but actively muted in order to protect individual identity and sense of empowerment and to maintained culturally produced conceptions of reality The best part of a very good book for me was that Norgaard is clear on both what is at stake and what is involved in beginning the process of breaking down this socially constructed denialWorking together may over time create the supportive community that is a necessary though not sufficient condition for people to face large fears about the future Engagement in such activities may also serve an important strategy of providing hopeful actionIt will not be easy to overcome feelings of despair and ineffectiveness to figure out how to communicate with neighbors across political differences or to translate meaningfully the global into the local and vice versa There is no guarantee that any of it will work Facing climate change will not be easy But it is worth trying

BOOK ´ Living in Denial Í Kari Marie Norgaard

Ble; and the ski industry had to invest substantially in artificial snow making Stories in local and national newspapers linked the warm winter explicitly to global warming Yet residents did not write letters to the editor pressure politicians or cut down on use of fossil fuels Norgaard attributes this lack of response to the phenomenon of socially organized denial by which information about climate science is known in the abstract but disconnected from political social and private life and sees this as emblematic of h A few passages from Living in DenialThis state of affairs brings to mind the work of historical psychologist Robert J Lifton Lifton’s research on Hiroshima survivors describes people in states of shock unable to respond rationally to the world around them He calls this condition “psychic numbing” Following his initial studies in Japan much of Lifton’s work has been devoted to describing the effect of nuclear weapons on human psychology particularly for Americans see for example Hiroshima in America Fifty Years of Denial Out of this project Lifton describes people today as living in an “age of numbing” due to their awareness of the possibility of extinction from the presence of both nuclear weapons and the capacity for environmental degradation In this usage numbing comes not from a traumatic event but from a crisis of meaning Lifton says that all of us who live in the nuclear age experience some degree of psychic numbing We know that our lives can end at any moment yet we live as though we do not know this Lifton calls this condition the “absurdity of the double life” We live with “the knowledge on the one hand that we each of us could be consumed in a moment together with everyone and everything we have touched or loved and on the other our tendency to go about business as usual – continue with our routines as though no such threat existed” According to Lifton the absurdity of the double life profoundly affects our thinking feeling identity sense of empowerment political imagination and morality He writes “If at any moment nothing might matter who is to say that nothing matters now?”In her landmark book The Managed Heart Commercialization of Human Feeling sociologist Arlie Hochschild vividly exposes the relationship of seemingly private and personal emotions to social structure and political economy She writes about the signal function of emotions and their ability to provide information about our interpretations of the world uite provocatively and in contrast to the emotionreason dualism she writes that emotion “can tell us about a way of seeing” and that “emotion is uniue among the senses because it is related to cognition” She goes on to explain “A black person may see the deprivation of the ghetto accurately ‘rationally’ through indignation and anger than through obedience or resigned ‘realism’ He will focus clearly on the policeman’s bloodied club the landlord’s Cadillac the look of disapproval on the employment agencies’ white face Outside of anger these images become like boulders on a mountainside miniscule parts of the landscape” Hochschild writes that “a person totally without emotion has no warning system no guidelines to the self relevance of a sight a memory or a fantasy Like one who cannot touch fire the emotionless person suffers a sense of arbitrariness which from the point of view of his or her self interest is irrational In fact emotion is a potential avenue to ‘the reasonable view’” Sociologists of emotion also emphasize the role emotions play in the sociological imagination “Emotions provide the ‘missing link’ between ‘personal troubles’ and broader ‘public issues’ of social structure itself the defining hallmark of the sociological imagination” Thus Hochschild notes “When we do not feel emotion or disclaim emotion we lose touch with how we link inner to outer reality”Citizens of wealthy nations who fail to respond to the issue of climate change benefit from their denial in economic terms They also benefit by avoiding the emotional and psychological entanglement and identity conflicts that may arise from knowing that one is doing the “wrong thing”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

Kari Marie Norgaard Í Living in Denial EBOOK

Living in DenialGlobal warming is the most significant environmental issue of our time yet public response in Western nations has been meager Why have so few taken any action? In Living in Denial sociologist Kari Norgaard searches for answers to this uestion drawing on interviews and ethnographic data from her study of Bygdaby the fictional name of an actual rural community in western Norway during the unusually warm winter of 2000 2001In 2000 2001 the first snowfall came to Bygdaby two months later than usual; ice fishing was impossi This is a book about everythingTechnically yes it's a book about how people deny climate change; but the theoretical lenses in it are useful for just about any issue you might choose There were mind fireworks going off all over the place for me seeing how on one point what the author discusses perfectly describes and explains something I have seen over and over again on climate change actions and how at the same time it applies to other social movements from feminism to LGBT and class issues as well as personal and family level issues like addictions and mental healthNormally I read books on climate change very very carefullyI allocate daily page uotas don't allow myself to read them too close to bed or I won't sleep maybe manage the emotional fallout with a glass of wine andor half a box of kleenex Not this one This one I want to bronze except then I couldn't reread it While Norgaard does touch on the issue of organized climate denial a la the Koch brothers and Exxon it is mostly about the small scale community and individual denials we undertake to manage our emotional responsesAfter all she asks even in the United States a majority of people say they believe the climate is changing and that this is a serious issue And yet even these people are not acting Why?The disconnect Norgaard argues is that people feel so scared guilty and helpless that they turn to emotion management strategies instead of political or social action These are described in some detail in some cases repetitive detail But it is convincing and certainly fits my own professional and volunteer experiencesMuch of denial she argues is socially mediated and organized we have created societies where talking about climate change along with a host of other issues is considered rude in many contexts unless it's in the form of a joke Coincidentally the Fort McMurray wildfire took place right when I read the book and I saw this play out in my own country in real time here we have the Canadian municipal symbol of climate change burning in a wildfire that is a perfect example of climate change impacts and no one mentioned climate change The one politician who finally did Elizabeth May was promptly excoriated by the Prime Minister and the NDP leader and had to backtrack It also serves to reinforce and protect global privilege The wealthy residents of first world nations through denial can reinforce and protect their our destructive lifestyles while reassuring themselves that they are good people with good intentions who don't mean to kill people Which is pretty much identical to every other form of privilege and the types of denial that protect them Incidentally I found it fascinating and simultaneously crushing how identical the processes of denial Norgaard identifies and describes are to the very techniues psychologists recommend to deal with mental health disorders ie using thought to manage feelings With alcoholism people and families unhealthily decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore to act as if it is not destroying their lives; with climate change and sexism racism classism etc people and societies decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore to manage collective feelings of guilt anger helplessness and fear of loss; with depression and anxiety individuals are actively taught by mental health professionals to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore in order to facilitate daily functioning That is depressing as shit And not a coincidence I am sureNorgaard offers no hope which is consistent with her research only a vague idea that if we start working on climate change locally people may make these connections and feel empowered enough that they can deal with the guilt powerlessness and fear through constructive means This is a possibility and one I think every environmental and climate campaigneractivist hopes is true but has so far proven not to be Personally I wonder how we could make the public expression of guilt fear and powerlessness socially acceptable enough to have the conversations and experiences that we are so terrified of having and see what comes of thatIf denial on this scale is basically a culture wide reproduction of the same kind of process that allows for example a wife in Austria to remain ignorant of her husband keeping their daughter locked in a secret room in the basement so he can rape her for 18 years or a husband to not notice his wife's abuse of their children and inability to control her spending then one might consider using similar techniues as work in those contexts1 You can't convince everyone Eventually they might be confronted with evidence so overwhelming that they can no longer continue denying reality Say if your husband is arrested and charged with incest and the children who randomly showed up on your doorstep are genetically proven to be the offspring of your husband and daughter And eventually maybe not So instead of trying to convince everyone of the reality of climate change which as Norgaard takes some pains to describe actually backfires because increasing levels of awareness and scientific knowledge on this issue are inversely correlated with levels of concern and willingness to act allow people who are determined not to know better not to know better unless you need them2 You can convince some people There is no way to do this painlessly Break down the fucking denial with a god damned hatchet It is not going to be comfortable There will be grief rage depression mourning and terror; these are unpleasant experiences but not fatal Stop trying to protect people from feeling terrible about a terrible situation3 Regroup and talk to the people who are willing to listen and talk back about what can be done What Norgaard proposes is the climate euivalent of the family of an alcoholic trying to deal with the alcoholism by discussing the financial issues with a debt management specialist and hoping that eventually this translates into a willingness to confront the drinking I've never seen this work What happens in my experience is that denial works for years or decades and everything ticks along swimmingly with disaster under the surface until someone goes under all at once and almost drowns in it and then learns to swim and then recovers Feeling terrible is inevitable and in some cases never goes awaySo my personal takeaway is thisBe as socially inappropriate about climate change as you can handleFeel like shit about it Be as angry guilty scared and powerless as you really are when you let yourself think about it Don't cover it up when you talk to people Don't make it a joke Bring it up when you know you're not supposed to Make people uncomfortable Be uncomfortable When you find people who are willing to go there with you talk to them get together make plans