Fenella Scutt, Maria DiGiano, Avery Hanna, Nicole Ardoin
How we construct hopeful and concerning frames around climate change is a pressing question in science research and communication. Through a humanistic lens, we seek to determine if emotions like hope, concern, fear and anger act as motivators to continue fighting against climate change. This study aims to explore how youth climate activists’ distinct experiences and understandings impact their environmentally friendly behaviors, and how the media sources they interact with foster emotional responses and discussion. We conducted 5 pilot interviews with leaders of environmental organizations within the Bay Area, asking a range of open-ended questions and concluding the conversations with a social media elicitation. Two Instagram posts were chosen from environmental accounts with large followings and interviewees were asked to describe their immediate emotional responses. Immediate post-interview memos were written, a preliminary codebook created, and transcripts were prepared for coding in NVivo. The 8 thematic categories for coding are: 1) Type of Action, 2) Motivating Environmentally-Efforts, 3) Motivations for Environmental Media Use, 4) Framing of Shared Climate Change Content, 5) Hope, 6) Concern, 7) Fear, and 8) Anger. Initial themes from the interviews indicate that hope is highly correlated with collective motivation and feelings of power, most notably, youth empowerment allowing all voices to be heard. Mobilization is highly valued and social media is a core strategy used by organizations for community outreach. Next steps for the Social Ecology Lab are to continue to refine and build this codebook, then analyze the interview data to draw conclusions surrounding which emotions correlate with specific actions or motivate environmental behavior.
Keywords: Climate change, hope, concern, youth climate activism, environmental organizations, social media, photo elicitation
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