Ecological Crisis, Sustainability & Social Worlds: Developing a Critical Agenda

Susana Batel, Matthew Adams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The articles in this special issue are responses to our call for more complex models that include a range of psychological, social and cultural contexts that shape understanding and action/practice. Taken as a whole, his special issue is an attempt to further examine environmental challenges through the specific ‘social lens’ of Social Representations Theory and associated approaches. It is a reframing that can be measured, at least in part, by the extent to which it addresses the kinds of limitations highlighted above, in theoretical terms and in the research agenda it embodies and promotes. However, it is also more than that. It also aims to highlight that ‘being social’ might not be enough, if this is not performed in a critical way. An initial challenge is to avoid the insertion of ‘social and cultural contexts’ into a list of variables that leaves a psychological cognitivist paradigm intact or, as Moloney and colleagues (2012) suggest, to avoid seeing relations between objects and people, between thinking and feeling and doing, as linear, predictive and discrete. In this vein, this special issue contributes to such a research agenda in two ways –on the one hand, the papers that compose it attempt to put forward an approach that explicitly addresses the social contexts in which ‘environmentally significant behaviours’ are embedded, via different versions and uptakes of Social Representations Theory; on the other hand, this introductory paper engages with how a critical perspective can be limited or obscured in advancing an avowedly social perspective. Highlighting limitations is not an attempt to dismiss the contributions to the issue, but to highlight that developing a critical agenda is a vital and unfinished pursuit.In this Introduction we will attempt to highlight and discuss these two sides of this special issue, with the larger context of Social Representations Theory and social-psychological research into environmentally significant actions in the background.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    Pages (from-to)1.1-1.27
    Number of pages27
    JournalPapers on Social Representation
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2016


    • climate change
    • climate change policy
    • social representation theory
    • environmentalism
    • Social change


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