«Annick Hedlund-de Witt Worldviews and the transformation to sustainable societies An exploration of the cultural and psychological dimensions of our ...»
Leiserowitz, 2007). Futerra (2005, 2009) therefore speaks of the need to articulate a compelling vision, as communications about sustainable development need to be associated with the positive aspirations, values, and worldviews of the 275 target audience—just as traditional marketing does. Other authors have also argued that communicators need to tap into culturally resonant, positive, empowering values and personal aspirations, and “envision a future worth fighting for” (Lappé, 2011; McKenzie-Mohr & Smith, 2008; Moser, 2007; Moser & Dilling, 2007; Shellenberger & Nordhaus, 2004). The ‘integrative environmental leaders’ portrayed in chapter seven made a similar case—that is, for a positive, inspiring, and generally emancipatory perspective and approach to sustainability issues.
Thus, communications appear to be more successful when they are visionand value-driven rather than problem-centered, precisely because it is through (positive) values that approaches can connect to what motivates people and what is important to them (Schösler & Hedlund-de Witt, 2012). Developing and articulating an inspiring vision for the future that appeals to multiple worldviewstructures therefore demands a careful and detailed exploration of the different values and views that are the motivational drivers behind the solutions, policies, or strategies that one is trying to advocate. Such an exploration has the extra advantage of inviting strategists and policy-makers to examine their strategies and solutions with more critical awareness and from a multiplicity of perspectives rather than merely their own, possibly facilitating greater policyreflexivity (see e.g. Huitema et al., 2011; PBL, 2004, 2008). As I have described above, the IWF can serve this reflexive process, as well as may generate a greater understanding of what drives other worldview-groups.
Communicators thus need to investigate and reflect on what is valued and what is experienced to be inspiring by multiple worldview-audiences.
Generally, it is important to tailor communications so as to resonate with and appeal to the enduring elements of the different worldviews, thereby as much as possible averting the alienation of other worldviews. For example, when one appeals to the more universal, religious or spiritual core of a traditional worldview rather than to the more dogmatic, ethnocentric, and authoritarian expressions, this is likely to be more respected and potentially even well-received by modern and postmodern worldview audiences, while a more authoritarian and ethnocentric religious dogmatism will tend not to engender such a response.
Conversely, when reason and science are invoked as important yet partial modes of knowing that can be complemented by faith and religiosity, rather than 276 panaceas that eradicate the need for faith, individuals inhabiting a traditional worldview will likely be more receptive to such communications (see also Habermas, 2010). Generally speaking, while the transitional aspects of a worldview tend to give rise to conflict and polarization with other worldviews, the enduring aspects tend to be more compatible with the content and preferences of other worldview-structures (Wilber, 2000). It is also preferable to craft messages that start with (and prioritize) and appeal to (the enduring aspects of) the earlier worldviews, as these elements will be largely maintained in subsequent development and can thus be relatively easily resonated with by the later worldview-audiences, while the converse is not true (that is, the enduring aspects of the later worldviews may not resonate for the earlier worldviews).
Moreover, it is to be expected that when the earlier worldview-audiences feel assured that their fundamental needs and values are addressed, they are, in a Maslowian manner, more likely to be open to other values and needs.
To illustrate the strategy of crafting communications that appeal simultaneously to the enduring elements of multiple worldviews, consider the following hypothetical example of a campaign for the advancement of renewable energy and efficiency technologies.98 One could begin the framing of one’s communicative strategy by emphasizing the values of increased homeland security and personal safety, as a result of greater energy independence and less reliance on foreign oil from politically unstable regions. Such a strategy then draws on traditional values, which, in their enduring form, tend to have widespread appeal (i.e., everybody generally can resonate with the need for safety and security). Additionally, the notion of energy independence often resonates with the traditional worldview’s proclivity to express ethnocentric values through identification on the level of the nation-state and a primary concern for one’s own national interests and autonomy (see e.g. Beck & Cowan, 1996; Cook-Greuter, 2000, 2002). Such traditionalist forms of nationalism are often amenable to the idea of domestic ownership and control over energy production. One could then build on these traditional values and integrate key modernist values, by highlighting the potential economic advantages, such as an increased competitive advantage, innovation, job-creation, profit, and overall 98 As an example of an initiative to advance renewable energy and efficiency on the level of a nation-state, see Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute (2011).
277 economic growth—all as results of investments in renewable energy (see also Zia & Todd, 2010). As can also be derived from the results of chapter four, certain worldview-groups (such as the 'Focus on money' and 'Secular materialism’ groups) are likely to be compelled or convinced by economic arguments or consequences (e.g. a carbon tax, economic benefits) rather than by moral or social arguments. Furthermore, one could emphasize the benefits in relation to climate change such as biodiversity, the environment, global solidarity, and social justice, which tend to be more highly valued by more postmodern audiences (see e.g. Inglehart, 1997; Inglehart & Welzel, 2005). 99 Lastly, for certain niche audiences, it might be skillful to underscore the ways in which such an initiative may serve the transformation of humanity’s relationship to the environment and contribute to the emergence of a flourishing ‘planetary society,’ thereby potentially resonating with the emerging integrative worldview. See Figure two for an example of such a tailored communications-strategy.
When policies, strategies, and communications are crafted to effectively resonate with the intrinsic motivational flows of each worldview, meeting them where they are, rather than implicitly demanding that they identify with various assumptions and values associated with a different worldview, one is practicing effective structural translation, or assimilation, to borrow the term used by Piaget (Piaget & Inhelder, 2000 ). This is the practice of effectively translating a (new or higher-order) communicative input or message into language that resonates with, and is appropriate for, the intended audience’s ‘native’ worldview in its already-existing structure. Simply put, it means crafting a communication (or, for that matter, developing a strategy, campaign, or policy proposal) in such a way that it resonates and aligns with the audience’s core view on the world. In contrast, structural accommodation consists of attempting to use the communicative act as a practice augmenting the internal structural configuration of the receiver(s) worldview (Piaget & Inhelder, 2000 ). In effect, this 99 These insights resonate with insights based on the much acclaimed “guns versus butter” political agenda theory, which emphasizes a framing of climate change in terms of defense and security (guns issues) instead of health and social welfare (butter issues). While it was found that citizens with a liberal political ideology tend to be more concerned about “butter” issues, citizens with a conservative political ideology tend to be more concerned about “guns” issues (see also Zia & Todd, 2010).
278 amounts to an attempt to transform the worldview of the receiving audience. Due to the complex ethical as well as pragmatic questions associated with this strategy—such as those concerning the potential and will for, and even desirability of, the transformation of the various receivers in the target audience—I will not discuss this further here, thus focusing on strategies of translation (or assimilation).100 In general, I suggest that communicators employ a translation strategy, as I feel that individuals have the right to be where they are in terms of their predominant worldview, and should be respected as such.
Through translation, communicators can work with their audience’s extant views and values, creating supportive conditions for expressing the enduring potentials and values of their current worldview.
I also argue that strategies, initiatives, and communications should be developed and framed in a way that, as much as possible, synergizes the different worldview- and value-orientations, rather than focusing on the views and values of one group and opposing or omitting the rest. For example, Shellenberger and Nordhaus (2004) propose a way of addressing ‘environmental’ issues—which can be understood as a predominantly, though not exclusively, postmodern concern—that synergizes them with core values of the larger public, such as traditional family values, or modern technological innovation and competition values (see also Dilling & Farhar, 2007). In a similar vein, framing-theorists have explored multiple frames—e.g. the frame of social progress, economic development and competiveness, morality and ethics, public accountability and governance—that can be used to synergize the interests and aims of communicators with those of the larger public (De Boer et al., 2010; Nisbet, 2009). In chapter seven the ‘integrative environmental leaders’ tendency to synergize, instead of polarize, was highlighted as one of their potential advantages in speaking to the larger public and generating motivation on the level of the masses (see also Giner & Tábara, 1999).
100 According to Brown & Riedy (2006), “transformative communications face a major obstacle: people change their worldview rarely, and there is no clear understanding of how to catalyze that change. Harvard developmental psychologist, Robert Kegan, points out in The Evolving Self (1982) that it takes approximately five years to change a worldview if the right conditions are present. Jane Loevinger, pioneer in understanding ego development (which is central to one’s worldview), states that ‘Ego development is growth and there is no way to force it. One can only try to open doors’”(p. 6).
279 Moreover, precisely because most environmental issues are complex and multifaceted, their proposed solutions tend to be viable for syntheses that appeal to multiple value-orientations or worldview-audiences. For example, in studying the emerging values and views of the organic and Slow Food movements— which can be seen as forerunners of a transition to a more sustainable, plantcentered, organic/local diet—it was found that individuals associated with these movements tend to be inspired by a pluriform value-palette, which appeared to be potentially compelling to multiple subcultures and worldview-audiences (Schösler & Hedlund-de Witt, 2012). This value-palette ranged from more ‘traditional’ values (such as an emphasis on and appreciation for family-owned farms; local livelihoods; traditional production methods; simple, seasonal, artisanal foods prepared according to ‘grandmother recipes’; strong social ties between producer and consumer), to more ‘modern’ values (flourishing economies; pleasure of taste; high quality foods; great variety; experimentation and innovation; health and nutrition), to more ‘postmodern’ values (environmental well-being; animal welfare; pure, natural foods and mindful eating; food choices as expression of one’s individuality; vitality and holistic health). These various value sets can all potentially be highlighted in a synergistic communication strategy, foregrounding and backgrounding certain of them depending on the particular audience. Moreover, in that way, one is explicitly drawing on the diverse sustainable potentials of the different worldviews in a complementary and creative fashion.
Having now discussed some salient ways in which the IWF can support reflexive policy-making and communicative action in service of sustainability solutions, I will now turn to some concluding reflections.
280 Figure 2: An example of framing communications for renewable energy initiatives to multiple worldviews
8.4 Discussion and conclusion As stated in the introduction, the aim of this chapter was to generate heuristic insight into the nature and structure of the major worldviews in the West, as well as how these insights can be applied to policy-making and communication strategies for sustainability. In section 8.2 I introduced an expanded understanding and articulation of the Integrative Worldview Framework, synthesizing my own results as presented in the earlier chapters with existing research and theory in notably sociology. This expanded articulation of the IWF should be understood as a generalized, orienting, heuristic framework for understanding and investigating both the aspects of worldviews, as well as the general contours of the predominant worldviews in the West—generally referred to as traditional, modern, postmodern, and integrative. In section 8.3, I demonstrate how this framework is relevant in the context of sustainability 281 communications, serving as: 1) a heuristic for cultural and psychological selfreflexivity; 2) an analytical tool for understanding worldview-dynamics in society; and 3) a scaffolding for effective climate communications and solutions.