Towards an eco-psycho-social analysis of climate change

Hollway, Wendy (2022). Towards an eco-psycho-social analysis of climate change. In: Frosh, Stephen; Vyrgioti, Marita and Walsh, Julie eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies. Palsgrave Macmillan, Cham.



Addressing the absence of ‘eco-’ in Psychosocial Studies, I combine personal reflection with a critique of binaries and disciplinary histories that split the natural environment from social sciences. Following sections discuss ecopsychology, ecofeminisms, and wider post-anthropocentric thought. I conduct a brief tour of the separation of “Mankind” from “Nature” in the history of European modernity and its colonizing. Relationality is extended from human sociality to include relations with the natural environment, taking the examples of eco- and posthuman feminisms. Ontological turns are referenced: from Nature to the ecological and from the anthropocentric to the more-than-human. The Modern conflation of the masculinity-femininity and culture-nature binaries, and the principle of separation are explored in civilization’s rapacious relation to the living earth. This opens onto Gaia theory and its recent use in theorizing the end of modernity, and ecological interconnectedness. Matrixial theory is used to go beyond the gender binary in finding a primordial stratum of ‘subjectivity as encounter’, differently available to women, men, and others, which precedes the separate individual stratum of subjectivity. Com-passion – feeling-with – establishes a proto-ethics, the ineradicable potential of care for and with the living earth. Finally, I explore how social dreaming’s basis in affect theory and associative thinking illustrates an eco-psycho-social practice adequate to knowing ecological crisis and climate derangement, one used in collective climate change support and awareness contexts.

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