Intersectional perspectives of house owner narratives on climate risks

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Publication Details
Author list: Jarnkvist, Karin
Publication year: 2019
ISSN: 1366-9877
View additional information: View in Web of Science™


The aim of this article is to investigate the construction of climate risks and to identify how it intersects with different forms of discursive categories in house owner narratives. Interviews with 44 house owners in four regions exposed to climate risks in Sweden were analyzed using the narrative method. I use intersectional risk theory, in which risk is constructed in relation to different forms of power structure, to interpret the narratives. The results indicate that narrators do risk in different ways in relation to the master narratives of the climate threat and individual environmental responsibility, which dominate the official rhetoric in Sweden. Three risk narratives are revealed in the interviews: (1) the master narrative of ‘the responsible house owner,’ (2) the alternative narrative of ‘the vulnerable house owner’, and (3) the counter-narrative of ‘the safe house owner.’ The climate risks talked about could relate to the narrator’s own house or to risks at a local or global level. The results indicate that different intersections of class, gender, age, and place shape different ways of positioning in relation to risk, by describing oneself as more or less aware of and exposed to climate risks. The analysis also reveals that different intersections of social structures lead to shifting prerequisites for house-owner preparedness towards preventing and managing climate risks. Such an understanding is important when trying to comprehend why some house owners adapt their homes to a changed climate while others do not. Aspects like these are necessary to consider while, e.g. deciding on policy and writing information and guidelines on adaptation to climate change.

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