Open Conference Systems, RUC Sunrise Triple C Conference: Climate – Change – Communication

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Multifrenic climate discourses
Tove Arendt Rasmussen

Last modified: 2010-04-16


On the basis of qualitative interviews about 'Energibyen Frederikshavn' (Energy City Frederikshavn), the article reveals various rationales underlying modern consumers' often contradictory opinions and attitudes to climate change and energy consumption. It may seem hard to decide whether the interest in sustainable, alternative sources of energy is conditioned by the soaring price of oil or present threats of climate change. And does it really matter what the motivations are as long as behaviour is changed? The article will discuss the energy discourses produced by the people in the participating focus groups in the light of three rather different, theoretical positions represented by Mary Douglas, Gerhard Schulze and Kenneth Gergen. We find that Mary Douglas' structuralistic and universal cultural theory is illuminating with respect to some of the problems in the focus group discourses but it has also become clear that most of the participants hold several opinions and conflicting meanings as individuals - not as antagonistic, cultural groups. We use the term 'skizofrenic' to describe this phenomenon which is not a diagnosis of participants' illness but of multifrenic, postmodern risk communication. Finally, we will contextualize the findings and different theoretical perspectives with respect to risk society and media including political dilemmas in the case of Denmark.

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