D.H. Strongheart; Florence Obison; Fabio Bordoni , pp. 123. ING/School of Engineering, 2010.
To the vast majority of people, the terms “sustainability” and “sustainable development” are unfamiliar, and, when they are recognized, there is still a great deal of interpretability as to their significance. Since no consensus exists regarding these terms, communication efforts to promote action and awareness among citizens must invariably “frame” the issue of sustainable development in one way or another. By and large, most communication strategies promote small private-sphere actions relevant to patterns of consumption. While these small actions are helpful, participatory, collective, public-sphere activism towards sustainability is much more potent and desirable. In attempting to engage this type of participatory action, communicators must understand the psychological barriers that are likely to confront their efforts. Communication professionals recognize that one such barrier, that of perceived, or, psychological distance, from issues of non-sustainability is especially pernicious. This paper attempts to apply Construal Level Theory (CLT), which provides “an account of how psychological distance influences individuals’ thoughts and behavior” (Trope et al. 2007) to the design of communication strategies for participatory sustainable development. After providing a thorough review of CLT, the authors examine the many ways that the theory can contribute to the design of communication strategies for participatory sustainable development.