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Sustainability 2013, 5(8), 3484-3501; doi:10.3390/su5083484
Article

Public Understanding of Climate Change as a Social Dilemma

Received: 6 May 2013 / Revised: 3 August 2013 / Accepted: 7 August 2013 / Published: 13 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Creative Solutions to Big Challenges)
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Abstract

Climate change is often referred to as one of the most complicated challenges facing humanity, characterised in various literatures as a social dilemma operating at multiple scales (individual, national, international). The present study considers the ways in which members of the public interpret climate change in these terms, drawing on data from multiple datasets, both qualitative and quantitative, from 1997 to 2011. As well as drawing out the nuances in participants’ perspectives on the social and societal dilemmas inherent to climate change, the present study also highlights the rejoinders and resolutions proposed by people to these dilemmas. It is suggested that recognition of the ways people find to navigate these difficult issues offers some cause for optimism regarding the public’s conceptualisation of, and response to, climate change.
Keywords: public perceptions; climate change; social dilemma; discourse analysis; psychology public perceptions; climate change; social dilemma; discourse analysis; psychology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Capstick, S.B. Public Understanding of Climate Change as a Social Dilemma. Sustainability 2013, 5, 3484-3501.

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