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Social representations of climate change: Analyses of focus groups discussions with Swedish farmers
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research .
2010 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In everyday life scientific knowledge often poses a challenge to understanding. It is argued that scientific knowledge is often hard for non-scientists to understand and in the need of translation to be relevant. The circulation of knowledge from experts into the wider public and different decision-makers in various contexts thus involves the transformation of abstract and conceptual ideas into more accessible and concrete knowledge. Communicative tools, e.g. analogies, distinctions and metaphors, are often used to conventionalize complex phenomena, hence rendering them more concrete and easy to grasp.

In order to analyze how abstract scientific knowledge is transformed into more accessible and concrete knowledge, I have selected the case of climate change. Climate change is an issue often described as invisible, with long term effects and with many embedded uncertainties. Furthermore, information is often identified as a crucial component of the ability of a system (natural or human) to adapt to climate change. In contrast to earlier studies, which are more focused on the content of perceptions of climate change, the aim of this paper is to analyze how climate perceptions are formed and withheld, and what underlying value premises they rest upon.

In this paper, I present results from Swedish focus group discussions with farmers. Although climate change affects all sectors, the agricultural sector is among the most vulnerable and sensitive ones as changes in temperature and precipitation patterns will have a direct influence on the quantity and quality of agricultural production and the daily life of farmers. The aim is to analyse how participants talk about a complex issue like climate change. I will address questions such as: What communicative strategies do focus groups participants use in their conversations? What implicit value premises are embedded in these strategies?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-62182OAI: diva2:371643
Nordic Interdisciplinary Conference on Discourse and Interaction
Competitively strengthened agriculture communication about climate change and new possibilities
Available from: 2010-11-22 Created: 2010-11-22 Last updated: 2011-01-24

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Asplund, Therese
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Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research
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