Cupples reading.docx

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Health Studies
Caroline Barakat

Culture, Nature and particular matter- Julie Cupples Abstract - Air pollution a hybrid phenomenon - Inseparable physical, scientific cultural, social, economic and political dimensions - Air scholarship focuses solely on physical dimensions of air pollution expressed quantitatively and pays little or no regard to identities - From other work by Bruno and other theorist, if we let go foundational nature, disrupt humanism and non scientific knowledge seriously, might be able to develop a new respect for atmospheric environments and build a better common world Introduction - Environmental problems transgresses boundaries of nature and culture, requires broad, diverse, heterogeneous thinking - Air pollution- object of environmental science, embedded in our everyday social and cultural world - Most air pollution paper pay little or no attention place specific cultural meanings attached to air pollution in that locality - This paper looks at reframing air pollution on the lines of what hulme said about the reconnect of culture with climate - This paper also outlines the barriers that exist between science and culture and looks into possible ways to bridge this gap Entry Points - Christchurch, in the south island of New Zealand, suffers from the levels of particulate matter that are high by world standards, particularly in winter months resulting in repiratory illness , etc. - This is caused by heavy reliance of burning wood and coal for home heating, etc. - Christchurch – a city that is cold indoors during the winter is part of many people everyday lives. The polluted form of heat is inadequate and most of the heat goes through the chimney - Firewood is the only affordable heating option - Regional authority- introduced a series of educational campaigns and financial incentives to encourage people to swap the open fires with heat pumps - Many of the air pollution undertaken by colleagues involve the quantitative measurement of polluntants in the atmosphere based on an assumption that air pollution is a problem and how we need to know the quantitative sense of just how much problem it is. - This approach leads to government and citizens action on air pollution and to lessen or resolve the problem - There is also a cultural geography for the problem of air pollution that was overlooked - A study looked at how people in Christchuruch displayed a stong cultural attachment to their polluting form of home heating - Many people felt good about their home heating practises and drew on understanding of economic necessity, heritage and masculinity and national identity to defend them - The resulting situation is that scientist have identified home heating as a problematic and dangerous source of particulate matter but people still continue with it because of the ways that the fire permits the enactment of particular gendered relations and identities - Behaviour changes does not automatically take place after the scientific work on air pollution since there are other important non – scientific factors that play a role as well as this pollution is linked to positive understanding of self and place - It is clear that air pollution is much an cultural issue as it is a scientific one - Also, the particulate matter (polluntants) does not exist separately from either human or culture. It doesn’t remain external to us and becomes part of our body as we absorb/ breath it in - Air pollution is often understood as an external threat yet the particulate matter is internalized becoming part of us Science and cultural studies - Science wars – science and culture were placed in two incompatible fields during the 1990s. Science represented by realism and objectivity and the culture by social constructionism and relativism - Realism and social constructionism- seen as oppositional. A number of realist set out to attack social constructionism who they claim deny independent agency to the natural world, whose move contribute to the management of environmental problems - Research in social constructionism acknowledges physical environmental change but distinguishes it from the social interpretation of these physical realities - Social constructionism embodies the idea however that things do not exist independently of meaing and how we experience the world depends in part how we represent the world - Deeply entrenched meaning are unstable and never fixed but nonetheless might be very resilient and change very slowly - Understanding problems that are socially produced and historically dynamic enables us to approach air pollution differently and gain new insight and understanding - Social constructionism looks t how scientist are not working in isolation from cultural politics, and their work more situated and embodied which is based on a series of assumptions and is driven by political motivations - Social construction of scientific knowledge odes not mean scientific knowledge is not highly valuable or incapable and does not mean we can dismiss scientific endeavour, it does involve being more reflexive about how and why we study things that we do - Constructive/ disruptive debates in 1990s have fortunately largely put the science war to rest - Social context of science changed significantly over the last few decades - Science is now increasingly harnessed to meet economic goals - Now it is impossible to view science as an autonomous activity separate from society and culture - Scientist need not to be threatened by the inclusion of non scientific perspectives in scientific debates and many recognize that deconstruction science and opening scientific practises to scrutiny can be a means to doing better science - Science now more socialized and contextualized - Air pollution science in which now the motivation of which is to reduce air pollution by encouraging people to act - Air pollution science must then find an effective way to engage in a reciprocal and transdisciplinary dialogue with the social and cultural worlds in which science is embedded - There is however an epistemic culture in which air pollution science which appears to disable the possibility of incorporating alternative knowledge’s and cultural insights into research - Actor network theory as a hybrid way of thinking of science and culture The social construction of air pollution - Early public risk perception work on air pollution came largely out of psychology - Problems with a psychological approach would be the tendency to treat public as undifferentiated ( deficit model ) and treat public attitudes towards air pollution as static rather than shifting and dynamic - Failed to give the chance on how participants understood air pollution - Highlights that air pollution like other environmental knowledge are socially constructed, embedded in peoples everyday lives and that ordinary people and non-experts rather than lacking knowledge as the deficit model assumes, are highly knowledgeable about the issues that matter to them - Non- expert understandings of environmental problems, tend then to be multidimensional and draw on a wide range of experiences, perception and evidence as well as discourses - Other studies have found that the importance of questions of power in making sense of air pollution - People also have a feeling of powerlessness or fatalism given the magnitude of the problem or more serious issue than air pollution - It is important therefore to think of the multiple ways in which people live with risk and how quantification intervenes in that process and experience such as when people prefer to engage in activities that they know are perceived by others to be risky - Also, other factors such as suffering from respiratory disease as well as awareness about the issue, help better communication air pollution - Qualitative shows that participants usually understand air pollution as social, cultural and or a political issue in a broader context - The statistical information on air pollution fails to stabilise networks around the risks because people refuse to understand themselves as a statistic - The scientific dimensions of environmental problems are often studied separately and by different scholars from the cultural dimensions. Language and thought in environmental science - Deeply entrenched disciplinary and conceptual divides is language - Scientists and scholars both have their specialized vocabularies which can work to exclu
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