Identity and the Natural Environment: The Psychological Significance of Nature

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Overview

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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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Anyone interested in how people come to identify with the natural environment and how such identification in turn affects behavior must read this book. It reports a fascinating set of studies, employing a range of methods applied to diverse populations, that provide rich insights into the antecedents and consequences of environmental/ecological identification."—Riley E. Dunlap,Department of Sociology, Oklahoma State University

" Identity and the Natural Environment is a fascinating book on many levels, dealing with topics of the utmost importance for our future well-being—even our survival as a species. It does so by pioneering a host of new research approaches, and presents the findings in ways that are interesting and accessible, yet rigorous. It represents a wonderful perspective that ushers in a new domain in the social sciences." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ClaremontGraduate University, and author of Flow: The Psychology of OptimalExperience

" Identity and the Natural Environment is a superb anthology of interdisciplinary research, conceptually organized to get to the heart of a crucial question: how are ecological awareness and activism linked to core identity?" Mitchell S. Thomashow, Chair,Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch New England Graduate School, author ofBringing the Biosphere Home and Ecological Identity

"Guber provides the first book-length overview and analysis of the American public's concern for the environment. Her review of existing results is comprehensive, she employs sophisticated methodological techniques for analyzing data, and she consistently draws upon relevant theory when interpreting her findings. The book is a significant contribution."—Riley E. Dunlap,Department of Sociology, Oklahoma State UniversityPlease note: Endorser gives permission to excerpt from quote in whole sentences.

"*Identity and the Natural Environment* is a superb anthology of interdisciplinary research, conceptually organized to get to the heart of a crucial question — how are ecological awareness and activism linked to core identity?"—Mitchell S. Thomashow, Chair, Department ofEnvironmental Studies, Antioch New England Graduate School, author of *Bringing the BiosphereHome*

"*Identity and the Natural Environment* is a fascinating book on many levels, dealing with topics of the utmost importance for our future well-being — even our survival as a species. It does so by pioneering a host of new research approaches, and presents the findings in ways that are interesting and accessible, yet rigorous. It represents a wonderful perspective that ushers in a new domain in the social sciences."—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Claremont Graduate University, and author of *Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience*Please note: Endorser gives permission to excerpt from quote. Season is now corrected.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262532068
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 363
  • Sales rank: 845,812
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Clayton is Professor of Psychology at the College of Wooster.

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

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: Identity and the Natural Environment 1
2 Some Lives and Some Theories 25
I Experiencing Nature as Individuals 43
3 Environmental Identity: A Conceptual and an Operational Definition 45
4 Human Identity in Relation to Wild Black Bears: A Natural-Social Ecology of Subjective Creatures 67
5 Moralizing Trees: Anthropomorphism and Identity in Children's Relationships to Nature 91
6 The Development of Environmental Moral Identity 113
7 Children's Environmental Identity: Indicators and Behavioral Impacts 135
II Experiencing Nature in Social and Community Contexts 159
8 The Human Self and the Animal Other: Exploring Borderland Identities 161
9 Trees and Human Identity 179
10 Identity, Involvement, and Expertise in the Inner City: Some Benefits of Tree-Planting Projects 205
11 Representations of the Local Environment as Threatened by Global Climate Change: Toward a Contextualized Analysis of Environmental Identity in a Coastal Area 227
III Experiencing Nature as Members of Social Groups 247
12 Identity and Exclusion in Rangeland Conflict 249
13 Group Identity and Stakeholder Conflict in Water Resource Management 273
14 Constructing and Maintaining Ecological Identities: The Strategies of Deep Ecologists 297
15 Identity and Sustained Environmental Practice 317
About the Contributors 343
Index 347
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