Climate Change and Its Entanglements with the Lifeworld – a Mundane Phenomenological Approach to Global Warming

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:30
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Dominik SCHREIBER, University of Mannheim, Germany
Since its very beginnings western discourse on climate change has had a strong preference for apocalyptical narratives. Nothing less than the total destruction of our environment has been imagined over and over again. The rhetorical strategy behind this is, to put it simple: Scare to initiate action. But as we look back, we do have to state that this strategy obviously doesn’t seem to work. The results are ambivalent at least. On the one hand, the issue of climate change has been recognized and discussed all over the world. But on the other hand, the problem of climate change is far away from being solved.

Reviewing the various sociological approaches on this issue (discourse analysis, impact research), it is striking that one promising perspective seems to lack so far: Alfred Schütz’ mundane phenomenological approach of lifeworld (Lebenswelt) has not being applied on global warming, yet. This lacking is quite remarkable, as far as such a perspective offers some promising insights. Climate change can be understood as a phenomenon that combines geophysical and social concerns. Obviously, this nexus is situated strongly within our everyday life, in the sense that the whole problem is connected to and caused by our everyday behaviour and actions, such as driving cars, consuming energy and buying products. At the same time, the outcome of these practices exceeds our individual lifeworld by far, so that we are not capable of experiencing the attached global consequences. Communicating symbols and metaphors comes into play, to overcome this state of great transcendence. In my presentation, I would like to scrutinize this tension field between everyday life, public media discourse, and the issue of climate change, to gain new insights on the question, how to make climate communication more efficient and how to strengthen the awareness of sustainability in the lifeworld.