[Colloquium] Talking about Climate Change: Identity, Stance, and Variation

Event Date: 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 3605
The environmental issues facing the world today are caused as much by social as ecological factors (Endter-Wada et al. 1998; Mascia et al. 2003; Sandbrook et al. 2013). For this reason, scholars within the social sciences have begun to pay increasing attention to the “human dimensions of conservation” (Bennet et al. 2017, 56). This research has come to recognize social identity as an important factor in both individual and group perceptions of and responses to environmental information (Gromet et al. 2013; Hart and Nisbet 2012; Kahan et al. 2011). Linguists, however, have largely not focused on the linguistic aspects of conservation (Stibbe 2015), despite the interconnectedness of ecological stability and language vitality for lesser spoken languages and the importance of environmental justice to larger projects of racial justice. 
Accordingly, this talk argues for a greater focus within linguistics on environmental interactions, practices, and ideologies. I examine environmental stancetaking among hunters and fishers in the rural western United States, a politically-conservative community with deep ties to environmental conservation. Through an intraspeaker sociophonetic analysis of a mediatized hunter personality, this project illustrates the importance of the more-than-human world to the organization of the “sportsman” sociolinguistic persona and the mobilization of this sociolinguistic style in the taking of enregistered environmental stances. This talk highlights both the importance of the more-than-human world for the theorization of sociolinguistic styles, as well as the potential for linguistic methodologies to contribute to studies of environmental ideologies and communication.
Bennett, Nathan J., Robin Roth, Sarah C. Klain, Kai Chan, Douglas A. Clark, Georgina Cullman, Graham Epstein et al. 2017. “Mainstreaming the Social Sciences in Conservation." Conservation Biology 31(1): 56-66.
Endter-Wada, Joanna, Dale Blahna, Richard Krannich, and  Mark Brunson. 1998. “A Framework for Understanding Social Science Contributions to Ecosystem Management." Ecological Applications 8(3): 891-904.
Gromet, Dena M., Howard Kunreuther, and Richard P. Larrick. 2013. “Political Ideology Affects Energy-efficiency Attitudes and Choices." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(23): 9314-9319.
Hart, P. Sol, and Erik C. Nisbet. 2012. “Boomerang Effects in Science Communication: How Motivated Reasoning and Identity Cues Amplify Opinion Polarization About Climate Mitigation Policies.” Communication Research 39(6): 701-723.
Kahan, Dan M., Ellen Peters, Maggie Wittlin, Paul Slovic, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Donald Braman, and Gregory Mandel. 2012. “The Polarizing Impact of Science Literacy and Numeracy on Perceived Climate Change Risks.” Nature Climate Change 2(10): 732-735.
Mascia, Michael B., J. Peter Brosius, Tracy A. Dobson, Bruce C. Forbes, Leah Horowitz, Margaret A. McKean, and Nancy J. Turner. 2003. “Conservation and the Social Sciences.” Conservation Biology 17(3): 649-650. 
Sandbrook, Chris, William M. Adams, Bram Büscher, and Bhaskar Vira. 2013. “Social Research and Biodiversity Conservation.” Conservation Biology 27(6): 1487-1490.
Stibbe, Arran. 2015. Ecolinguistics: Language, ecology and the stories we live by. New York: Routledge.