Culture as a mediator of climate change adaptation: Neither static nor unidirectional

Few, Roger, Spear, Dian, Singh, Chandni, Tebboth, Mark G. L. ORCID:, Davies, Julia E. and Thompson-Hall, Mary C. (2021) Culture as a mediator of climate change adaptation: Neither static nor unidirectional. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 12 (1). ISSN 1757-7780

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Though there is increasing recognition of the cultural dimensions that shape climate change adaptation, our experience from working with actors engaged in adaptation policy and practice suggests that the role of culture still tends to be conceived in overly narrow and fixed terms. This is exemplified in portrayals of conservative cultural norms as stifling positive change. A growing body of research across the world indicates that the reality is seldom as simple as this – culture works in complex and variable ways, and, most importantly, is inherently dynamic. Drawing especially from research work on vulnerability and adaptation conducted in semi-arid regions, we illustrate this argument by briefly exploring three themes - multiple knowledge systems for farming in Botswana, the dynamics of pastoralist values and livelihoods in Kenya, and the interplay of caste and livelihood choices in India. Understanding how different facets of culture such as these operate in context helps move away from viewing culture statically as a barrier or enabler, and toward a more plural and dynamic appreciation of the role of culture in adaptation. This includes recognising the potential for factors that may be construed as barriers to become enablers. Critical, balanced engagement with cultural dimensions in both research and practice, understanding and working with these dynamic social structures, is essential if adaptation is to create meaningful and lasting change for those who need it most.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: adaptation,barrier,climate change,culture,enabler,global and planetary change,geography, planning and development,atmospheric science,sdg 13 - climate action ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300/2306
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Centres > Water Security Research Centre
University of East Anglia Schools > Faculty of Science > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Climate Change
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Global Environmental Justice
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Health and Disease
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Area Studies
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2020 01:06
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2023 01:16
DOI: 10.1002/wcc.687


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