Environmental communication and behaviour change in the Bible Belt of the United States

Layne, Mary Kristen (2018) Environmental communication and behaviour change in the Bible Belt of the United States. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The Christian church in the southeast United States is a dominant institution that, if mobilised, has the potential to be a powerful force for environmental engagement and the promotion of pro-environmental behaviour. In an effort to advance understanding of the barriers to such engagement and behaviour change in the region, this thesis considers, in the context of religious Bible Belt communities, 1) the relative influence of different forms of social power on grassroots pro-environmental behaviour change, 2) the alignment of environmental and prosocial engagement, and 3) the characteristics of effective programmes for stimulating grassroots pro-environmental behaviour change.

It approaches these areas of research from three different angles: an interdisciplinary review of the literature on behaviour change models, social power, framing and environmental communication more broadly; a Multi-Grounded Theory analysis of 20 semi-structured interviews with leaders in environmental and Christian organisations in the southern US; and a statistical analysis of a web-based survey of self-identified Christians across the politically and religiously conservative region (N = 400, across eleven states) regarding participants’ attitudes towards, participation in and beliefs about environmental and prosocial issues.

Key findings include the identification of the ‘champion’ and ‘bridge’ models of action in religious organisations, as well as evidence for distinct (and opposing) influences of religious beliefs (orthodoxy) and religious practices (religiosity) on the gap between prosocial and environmental engagement. The thesis also introduces a new researcher reflexivity methodology for use in qualitative research.

Based on the findings, the thesis argues that reducing the liberal stigma of environmentalism is paramount in mobilising Christians for climate change action. To this end, a sustained focus on encouraging specific pro-environmental behaviours framed in terms of altruistic concerns should be undertaken to encourage pro-environmental actions in southern Christian populations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. An edited version and access to the printed version is available once any embargo periods have expired.
Keywords: Environment, communication, Bible Belt, environmentalism, values, framing, religion, climate change.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Supervisor's Name: Hanscomb, Dr. Stuart and Mancy, Dr. Rebecca
Date of Award: 2018
Embargo Date: 13 August 2020
Depositing User: Ms Mary Kristen Layne
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30735
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2018 08:27
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 08:07
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/30735

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