SOCIAL SCIENCE PERSPECTIVE
text by Dennis Nientimp
with photographs by Jack Laing Aiken
A Social Science Perspective on Sustainability, Nature Perception, and related Affective States with a focus on community in Maříž and Lestnice:
During the ‘Field Research’ residency of Leštnice in Maříž, I wanted to have a take on the sustainability topic from a social science perspective. In contrast to the common practice of scientists, my project did not aim for generalisation or finding causal mechanisms. My interest was solely on investigating the group of participants during the residency and the local community. To do so, I collected data in two cohorts and two ways.
THE BROAD PICTURE: QUANTITIVE METHODS
In accordance with the leading questions and the topic of the residency, I investigated people´s connectedness with nature and their affective states when thinking of climate change. This was then related to individual pro-environmental behaviours.
First, participants of the residency filled in a survey which measure nature connectedness (graphic below), emotions related to the thought of climate change (eco-, Depressed, Miserable, Anxious, Afraid, Angry and Frustrated) and the pro-environmental behaviours currently exhibited (Eurobarometer, European Commission).
The same survey was filled in of visitors to the exhibition of the Field Research residency, before hearing this project's presentation.
One can see that the scales are internally correlated meaning that items of the nature connectedness scale display positive correlation, especially items of the eco emotions scale display high positive correlations and certain pro-environmental behaviours are positively associated with each other.
It is interesting to note that higher age has a medium negative correlation to Eco emotions of being afraid, anxious and angry. This leads to two hypotheses: Either older people are emotionally more stable and experience less negative emotions associated with climate change, or they just care less. In combination with the small but negative associations of Age with pro-environmental behaviour overall as well as item 4 and 6, there is evidence in favour of the hypothesis that older people care less about the environment.
Nature Connectedness Scale
SAMPLE 1: PARTICIPANT RESEARCH
The Pearson correlations of both samples combined
The Initial sample consisted of 17 participants. Including five Czech, two Italian, eight German two Dutch, one French and one New Zea(landian) participant. The minimum age was 21 and the maximum was 32 (mean= 26.70).
The general picture for this sample looks more pronounced. The internal association are stronger indicating that participants scored high on most eco emotions and felt connected on multiple dimensions to nature. Surprising: Negative association between Size and Reduced consumption of disposable items and less internal consistency for the item Angry.
SAMPLE 2: RESIDENTS
The Pearson correlations for the sample of residency participants.
The age ranged from 18 to 68 (mean 48) and 22 filled in the questionnaire. 19 participants were from the Czech Republic, one from Italy, one from Switzerland and one from Slovakia.
When it comes to nature connectedness this sample displays comparable internal consistency to the field research residency sample. However, the eco-emotion items show less internal consistency. As this sample had a much higher mean age, age might be an explanation for fewer eco emotions experienced in this sample and hence less internal consistency.
The Pearson correlations for the sample of visitors/residents.
To extend the rather superficial picture provided by the surveys, I conducted fairly free interviews in which I wanted to gain more knowledge on what people actually think about the topic of climate change, nature and collective action. The interviews were centred around the following questions:
What do you feel /comes to your mind when you think of Mariz? /Of nature? / Climate change?
Which role does nature play in Mariz?
What do you think regarding responsibility for preserving nature?
Which role does the community play in Mariz/ for you in your own work?
Further, I used each interview as an input for the follow-up interviews to create a collective dialogue.