About this Research Topic
In order to address climate change, much emphasis has been put on the need for individual behavioural change. However, as it is deeply embedded in political, social, and economic structures, climate change calls for collective action, and especially for transformative action aimed at the system level. Civic initiatives for climate change have proliferated in recent years. These movements have emerged in diverse locations, on a variety of scales, and are led by different types of actors, from ‘legacy’ non-governmental organizations, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to internet-platform projects, such as 350.org or Avaaz, to place-based protectors of water and land, such as the Standing Rock resistance.
Civic groups use diverse means and tactics, including demonstrations, sit-ins, climate camps, pipeline protests, and social media. Some groups are reclaiming structural changes in property and decision-making in energy systems, leading a wave of ‘energy democracy’ that brings together community groups, environmental organizations, and workers unions. Others are connecting climate change to questions of human security to address forced migration and refugee crises. Still others emphasize prefigurative politics to provoke imaginative and experimental forms of change. Whereas some civil society organizations pursue the dominant approach to ecological modernization, system-level alternatives have been developed, including degrowth, ‘buen vivir’ (inspired in indigenous movements from Central and South America), ecosocialism, ecofeminism, and climate justice. Numerous civic groups thus challenge technocratic and depoliticising discourses, and illustrate that there is no single option but multiple alternatives.
The civic movement for climate change is broader and more differentiated than contemporary scholarship usually suggests. Its interventions span the earth and crosscut distinctions that are usually drawn between north and south, between science and popular knowledge, and between government, civil society, and social movements. In the process, this movement compels us to reconsider the relationship of communication, power, and agency, and to view climate change communication as constitutive of politics, not merely as reflective of power and policy.
This Research Topic welcomes scholars to broaden our engagement with communication and collective action for climate change. We seek papers informed by critical approaches that discuss how these movements contribute to and spring from climate change communication. A central purpose for this Research Topic is a critical reconsideration of the concepts and approaches that shape our understanding of power and agency, and a sustained reflection on how different discursive practices/ communication enhance or inhibit political action by civic groupings. We therefore encourage scholars to revisit received ideas on public engagement, civil society, social movements, justice, and (post-)politics.
Papers might explore (but are not limited to):
• The importance of local knowledge, popular culture, and art in civic action
• Experiential and visual approaches to civic action
• The obstacles to better collaboration and solidarity between various civic actors
• The growing use of platforms (Facebook, Google Earth, Twitter) to coordinate and police activist groups
• Transnational diffusion of ideas/discourses/projects for civic action
• The relation between collective identities and struggles on climate change
• Radical and disruptive forms of civic action/politics
• Activists’ visions for social/cultural/political transformation towards sustainability
• The relevance of our usual categories for understanding communication and power (ideology, hegemony, sovereignty, disciplinary power, bio-politics, violence, critique).
Manuscripts for the various categories accepted by the journal (https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/communication/sections/science-and-environmental-communication#article-types) should be submitted by February 28, 2019.
Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash.
Keywords: Climate change, civic action, activism, social movements, critique
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.