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Social futures of global climate change: A structural phenomenology


Despite compelling scientific research that affirms the reality of climate change, including global warming, social and political engagement with the issue remains highly contested. To identify the cultural and social structurations of alternative approaches to climate change, this study draws on a temporally theorized 'structural phenomenology' of social action and organization. Through hermeneutic analysis, it examines selected prominent contemporary constructions of global climate change. The general framework of structural phenomenology, orthogonal to, yet compatible with, field theory, is used empirically to identify various wider social domains of action. The cultural structures of domain practices are described by how they operate through, span, or hybridically combine alternative registers of temporally structured meaningful action - each with its distinctive meaningful logic. The study examines cultural structures in four domains concerned with global climate change - science and policy analysis, conservative skepticism and denial, geopolitical security, and environmental movements. Climate-change constructions within these four domains differ in the ways that they compose various registers among diachronic, strategic, pre-apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic social action temporalities. The general potential of structural phenomenology for re-envisioning institutional arrangements of modern societies is considered, as are the implications of the analysis for research on and social engagements with climate change.

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