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Keynote Speakers











Karsten BalgarKarsten Balgar

Karsten Balgar studied sociology at the Freie Universität in Berlin, visual communication in Dortmund and Gothenburg. He was employed at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (IRS) in Erkner as research fellow from 2008 until 2012 where he worked in research projects in the context of civil society and climate change. Since 2012 he is employed at the Katastrophenforschungsstelle (KFS) of the Freie Universität Berlin in the context of research on climate change and civil society actors. His fields of expertise include sociological theory, urban sociology and sociology of nature.

>> www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de
>> KarstenBalgar@gmail.com


The Social Construction of Climate Change – Heterogeneous Perceptions of Risks and Resilience Building

Gabriela B. Christmann | Karsten Balgar

The paper reports from the research project “How societies deal with climate change” studying coastal cities of the southern North Sea and Baltic Sea and pursuing the following research question: How do societies construct climate change on different socio-spatial levels, that is, on a national, a regional, and particularly on a local level? To investigate vulnerability and resilience constructions, the project used a triangulation of methods. A sociology of knowledge approach to discourse analysing local newspaper articles was combined with a standardized Delphi-survey of experts. The results will show among other things that local interpretations may differ significantly irrespective of similarities in natural environments. For example, assessments of climate change in Lübeck suggest a great sense of security, once shaped by its Hanseatic roots: Given the fact that people of Lübeck have always defied the biggest challenges, they feel equally well-equipped to cope with the climate change-induced threats to come. This urban culture-based mode of interpretation does not, however, play any role in the perception of climate change in Rostock. Moreover, this East German city views climate change much more as an opportunity. Long periods of warmth might help to make the region more attractive to tourists which will have a positive effect on the job market and will make the city resilient compared to its precarious economic situation.




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