Inaction and environmental crisis: narrative, defence mechanisms and the social organisation of denial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The evidence that we face a catalogue of environmental crises caused by human activities, which pose a threat to planetary, social and personal continuity, is communicated in increasingly sophisticated ways. Despite increased knowledge, the populaces of wealthy nations appear to be outwardly ignoring such risks, continuing their consumption patterns unabated, and failing to mount a significant public response. Interventions aimed at encouraging more sustainable behaviours have largely drawn on individualistic psychology, and to date they have been largely unsuccessful. This paper is a call to deepen and widen our understanding of the psychosocial processes involved in not responding to the issues at stake. It does so by drawing on narrative approaches in the social sciences, psychoanalytic conceptualisations of defence mechanisms, and recent work addressing the social organisation of denial. The potential of these developments for informing social movements and political action is briefly considered in the light of an example, the Dark Mountain Project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-71
Number of pages20
JournalPsychoanalysis, Culture and Society
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014

Keywords

  • consumerism
  • Dark Mountain Project
  • defence mechanisms
  • denial
  • social organisation of denial
  • sustainability

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