Reorienting climate change communication for effective mitigation: Forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement?
Ockwell, D., Whitmarsh, L., & O’Neill, S. (2009). Reorienting climate change communication for effective mitigation: Forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement? Science Communication, 30(3), 305-327. doi:10.1177/1075547008328969
AbstractClimate communication approaches expend significant resources promoting attitudinal change, but research suggests that encouraging
attitudinal change alone is unlikely to be effective. The link between an individual's attitudes and subsequent behavior is
mediated by other influences, such as social norms and the “free-rider” effect. One way to engender mitigative behaviors would
be to introduce regulation that forces green behavior, but government fears a resulting loss of precious political capital.
Conversely, communication approaches that advocate individual, voluntary action ignore the social and structural impediments
to behavior change. The authors argue that there are two crucial, but distinct, roles that communication could play in engaging
the public in low carbon lifestyles: first, to facilitate public acceptance of regulation and second, to stimulate grass-roots
action through affective and rational engagement with climate change. The authors also argue that using communication to stimulate
demand for regulation may reconcile these “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches.