Identity and the Natural Environment: The Psychological Significance of Nature

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Susan D. Clayton, Susan Opotow
MIT Press, 2003 - Psychology - 353 pages
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The often impassioned nature of environmental conflicts can be attributed to the fact that they are bound up with our sense of personal and social identity. Environmental identity -- how we orient ourselves to the natural world -- leads us to personalize abstract global issues and take action (or not) according to our sense of who we are. We may know about the greenhouse effect -- but can we give up our SUV for a more fuel-efficient car? Understanding this psychological connection can lead to more effective pro-environmental policymaking.

Identity and the Natural Environment examines the ways in which our sense of who we are affects our relationship with nature, and vice versa. This book brings together cutting-edge work on the topic of identity and the environment, sampling the variety and energy of this emerging field but also placing it within a descriptive framework. These theory-based, empirical studies locate environmental identity on a continuum of social influence, and the book is divided into three sections reflecting minimal, moderate, or strong social influence. Throughout, the contributors focus on the interplay between social and environmental forces; as one local activist says, "We don't know if we're organizing communities to plant trees, or planting trees to organize communities."

 

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Contents

Introduction Identity and the Natural Environment
1
Some Lives and Some Theories
25
Experiencing Nature as Individuals
43
Environmental Identity A Conceptual and an Operational Definition
45
Human Identity in Relation to Wild Black Bears A NaturalSocial Ecology of Subjective Creatures
67
Moralizing Trees Anthropomorphism and Identity in Childrens Relationships to Nature
91
The Development of Environmental Moral Identity
113
Childrens Environmental Identity Indicators and Behavioral Impacts
135
Identity Involvement and Expertise in the Inner City Some Benefits of TreePlanting Projects
205
Representations of the Local Environment as Threatened by Global Climate Change Toward a Contextualized Analysis of Environmental Identity in ...
227
Experiencing Nature as Members of Social Groups
247
Identity and Exclusion in Rangeland Conflict
249
Group Identity and Stakeholder Conflict in Water Resource Management
273
Constructing and Maintaining Ecological Identities The Strategies of Deep Ecologists
297
Identity and Sustained Environmental Practice
317
About the Contributors
343

Experiencing Nature in Social and Community Contexts
159
The Human Self and the Animal Other Exploring Borderland Identities
161
Trees and Human Identity
179

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About the author (2003)

Susan Opotow is Professor in the Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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