Towards a Sociology of Hope: Transition Narratives and Interaction Rituals in the Climate Justice Movement. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

The overwhelming reality of climate change often causes despair and inactivity among citizens. However, social movements that cultivate hope might counter this. Therefore, this project researches how the climate justice movement deals with hope. By investigating this, I aim to gain insight into social dynamics of hope and into the upcoming climate justice movement – there is much to be known about both topics. My innovation is to see hope as a social process, as something between people, rather than merely as an abstract idea. Because hope is something that people collectively 'think' and 'feel' I will also look at how hope relates to two sociological concepts in practice: first by looking at transition narratives - the stories people tell about how societies can get more sustainable. Second by looking at interaction rituals – the ways how people create excitement in situations like meetings or demonstrations. From these theoretical viewpoints, I will investigate two case studies: I will study first climate justice groups in Belgium, and then I will look at the anti-gas resistance in Groningen, the Netherlands. I will investigate how these movements deal with hope, by analyzing public documents, by observing and joining movements in their everyday functioning, by interviewing participants and finally by having a focus group. As such, I aim to contribute in building out an academic and socially relevant sociology of hope.

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