Culture, Space and Climate Change: Vulnerability and Resilience in European Coastal Areas, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Culture, Space and Climate Change

Vulnerability and Resilience in European Coastal Areas, 1st Edition

By Thorsten Heimann


300 pages | 34 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-11-20
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Ways of handling climate change vary worldwide. Differences can be observed in the perception of potential threats and opportunities as well as in the appraisal of adequate coping strategies. Collective efforts often fail not because of technical restrictions, but as a result of social and cultural differences between the actors involved. Consequently, there is a need to explore in greater depth those zones of cultural friction which emerge when actors deal with climate change.

This book examines how cultural differences in the handling of climate change can be described and explained. The work develops the concept of culture as relational space, elaborates explanatory approaches, and investigates them by surveying more than 800 actors responsible for spatial development of the European coastal regions in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Poland. In doing so, this book engages with debates on cultural globalisation, in which the attachment of culture to place is increasingly being questioned. Adopting the approach of culture as relational space allows possible cultural formations to be examined across diverse fields of application from the local to the global scale. In addition, the book investigates how far different value orientations, beliefs, and identities can explain diverse perceptions of problems and opportunities right up to preferences for climate-mitigation and adaptation measures.

Providing comprehensive insights into the diverse zones of cultural friction which scholars and practitioners face when handling climate change locally and globally, this book will be of great interest to those studying climate change, environmental sociology, and sustainable planning.


"Climate change is understood and acted upon in many different, locally specific ways. How can these differences be explained? What are their implications for spatial planning? This book suggests a relational and multidimensional approach to culture and space and provides a fascinating account of different climate cultures in European coastal communities." -- Anita Engels, Director, Centre for Globalisation and Governance, CGG, University of Hamburg, Germany

"Climate change from a cultural perspective is an important contribution to both enhancing our understanding of the drivers and causes of climate change as well as our motivation to design better policies to deal with climate change in a politically and culturally sensitive way. Both the case study and the theoretical analysis in Heimann’s book serve these two goals in an exemplary manner. Competent, engaged and evidence-informed, this book is a must-read for any climate change expert or activist." -- Ortwin Renn, Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, IASS, Potsdam, Germany

"Besides presenting the results of an innovative study of public and private sector actors in several European countries, Heimann’s book brings a constructionist theoretical framework to climate change research that substantially deepens our understanding of the impact of cultural and spatial factors. Thereby taking a vital step in the difficult process of finding and implementing solutions." -- Margarethe Kusenbach, University of South Florida, USA

"This innovative work gives an accurate place to social and cultural factors involved in climate change policies and the implementation of policy measures. Beyond the case study of European coastal regions, Culture, Space and Climate Change provides a well-grounded, comprehensive model that will undoubtedly be valuable in explaining differences in climate change perceptions and climate change adaptation practices in other social realities and cultural spaces such as in Latin America and other regions of the world. An important and rich contribution to the vibrant field of sociological climate change research." -- Libertad Chavez-Rodriguez, Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology, CIESAS, Mexico

Translated Reviews from the German original Klimakulturen und Raum:

"Heimann’s work represents an important addition to cultural and spatial research, particularly with regard to explanations for climate-cultural interpretation and action. (…) In addition to comprehensive background knowledge on climate change, on climate-cultural and communicative differences, and on the previous theoretical and methodological discourse, Heimann also offers significant new findings. His study is striking for having addressed the relation between space and culture, and for devising an approach for its investigation. (…) The innovative and profound theoretical and empirical approach of Culture, Space and Climate Change will be a rich resource for (…) social scientists interested in complex methods." -- Sybille Reitz, Chair of Energy and Environmental Policy, Technical University Munich; in: Pol-Int,, Februar 20, 2018

"Altogether, Heimann provides an important contribution to the debates on environmental sociology, cultural sociology, sociology of knowledge, and spatial theory. Of particular value, because of its potential to be transferred to other contexts, is the development of an integrated and diverse explanatory model for the differences in perception of climate change and climate-adaptation measures. A key accomplishment of Culture, Space and Climate Change is the unbiased sophistication of its conclusions, achieved only by the tremendous effort made to consider such a great breadth of factors." -- Oskar Marg, in: Raumforschung und Raumordnung, Jg. 76, 2018

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Culture, space, and differences in handling climate change

2. Climate cultures and space: Theoretical foundations

3. Climate-change constructions in science: Basic concepts and their historical development

4. Resilience constructions: Introduction to climate mitigation and adaptation strategies

5. Explanations for climate-culture differences: Derivation of the Values-Beliefs-Identities model

6. On the historical construction of political-administrative climate-change frameworks in the research area

7. Empirical approach

8. Communication about climate change in European coastal areas

9. Vulnerability constructions in European coastal areas

10. Resilience constructions in European coastal areas

11. Conclusion


About the Author

Thorsten Heimann is a research associate at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space in Erkner/Berlin. He holds a PhD in sociology from the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Climate Change Research

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SCIENCE / Global Warming & Climate Change
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General