Webinar by Bridget Bradley; hosted by Centre for Research on Families, 10th June, 2021
Bridget related the findings of a digital Patchwork Ethnography study that she and her team at the University of St Andres, had carried out with families on the topics of climate anxiety and climate activism in Britain. Although the team had hoped for more diversity, most participants were white, middle class adults.
Three main topics emerged:
- the challenges of talking about climate issues within families.
Many people reported feeling alone and isolated as others did not appear interested, many others also reported difficulties within the wider family. There was talk of guilt in making other family members feel bad. Grief and anger were more in evidence than anxiety
- dislike of like the term eco anxiety as it appears to pathologise a rational response.
- a growing awareness of climate issues, although many challenges and difficulties remain.
Other issues included:
The many barriers to leading a more sustainable life.
Plastic packaging of much baby stuff.
Climate change awareness prompted by having a child.
Fear for the future of their children.
The importance of being a role model.
Raising children in a climate conscious way.
Fostering values of care and respect for the natural world, enabled by spending time in nature.
Building psychological resilience.
Little emphasis on building practical resilience, such as growing food.
Concern of instilling fear in children; the need for a balance between hope and fear.
Impact on everyday family life of climate related work or action.
Increased anxiety and fear when risks are closer to home.
Only two women had decided to stay childless.
In the questions and answers section of the webinar it emerged that many people find it helpful to talk about climate issues within therapy, as long as the therapist is comfortable to do so and trained in eco issues. The Climate Psychology Alliance has a list of therapists who offer sessions to those wishing to talk about climate issues. (See link below).
Overall the findings demonstrated the importance of family dynamics. Bridged therefore recognised a need to relate to the world in a deeply relational way (like many indigenous cultures do already). In other words, when the earth is considered as our home, then all beings (including animals and plants) might be viewed as family.
Relevant links :