Published 25 October 2013
SEI Key Researcher, Christopher Wright, Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School has had an article published in The Conversation, which explores the emotional engagement (particularly fear and anger) of businesses with climate change.
Christopher explains that over the last few years, he has been researching ‘how major corporations are responding to climate change as a question of “risk and opportunity”, and how this results in new strategies and practices.’
He explains that surprisingly, climate change is often explained as a personal and emotional issue.
‘One way to understand how businesses and managers make sense of climate change is to go beyond the supposedly “rational” logic of traditional business discourse and examine this issue through the lens of “emotionology”. Emotionologies refer to social standards of “appropriate” emotional expression in regard to particular issues’ said Christopher.
Christopher’s research on how businesses have responded to climate change highlights that the issue is navigated in an ‘increasingly volatile emotional milieu in which feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger shape public debate.’ Christopher explains that the dominant emotions expressed in social discourse are:
climate change as threat – which reflects the fear and anxiety of many over the future of our society given scientific projections of potentially catastrophic changes in temperature, sea-levels, extreme weather events and ocean acidification; and
Climate change as ideological battleground – reflecting the passion and hostility that has arisen as climate change has become a polarising and partisan political issue.