Social representations of climate change : farmers in Sweden

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: The scientific community concludes that the climate is changing. However, publics around the world have formed diverse opinion about climate change which is strongly influenced by local cultural dynamics, value orientation, and political orientation. Among these parts of the society, communication with farmers about climate change has proven to be difficult, with relatively low acceptance of anthropogenic climate change or the idea that climate change will negatively affect agriculture. The purpose of this study was to analyze how farmers in Sweden make sense of climate change in relation to agricultural production - a sector characterized as climate sensitive. The social representations perspective reflects the social dimensions of thinking and the perceptual organization and structure of social reality. In this study, the researcher analyses how farmers talk about climate change as one of the factor affecting agricultural production. Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted to examine challenges encountered, overcoming challenges, and the implementation of climate change policy towards the agricultural production. Responses from farmers indicated: • The farmers are aware of the negative effects of GHGs to the changing climate. • Measures taken to protect the environment, challenged the agricultural production. • Climate change has both challenges and opportunities to Northern part of the world. • Farmers’ representation in decision making helps to meet environmental goals, and as a result combat climate change. • Farmers make sense of society and policy as something they do not trust. This study recommends state authorities to satisfy the needs of farmers and engage them in policy formulation and implementation for a better results. The researcher could not identify the interplay between scientific and everyday knowledge which is highly significant in the study of social representations of climate change but does describe other knowledge forms significant to study farmers.

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