How Citizens and Politicians Talk About Their Carbon Footprint: A Discourse Analysis
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It has been suggested that the crisis of climate change is due to ‘a crisis of maladaptive human behaviour’ (Maloney and Ward, 1973, p. 583). Even though we are aware that our daily behaviours could be jeopardizing the environment they are accompanied by beliefs that make our lifestyle seem sensible. Social psychology can help with understanding the motives behind this maladaptive behaviour and can play a role in developing solutions to improve it. As such this study looked at the ways in which citizens and politicians talk about their carbon footprint. One-on-one interviews were conducted and then transcribed and analysed using discursive psychology techniques, similar to Edwards and Potter (1992). Three themes of interest emerged from the analysis, these were respondents: justifying opinions and actions; presenting an environmentally friendly self-image; and displacing responsibility for the reduction of carbon emissions. It emerged that the respondents were constructing discursive barriers that allowed for any potentially damaging behaviours to be practiced unchallenged or to be successfully defendable. The implication for the design of initiatives to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint would be to recognise that people have these strategies at their disposal that could influence their adoption of environmentally friendly practices.