Martin Fritz and Dennis Eversberg present the analysis of flumen on the societal situation of the social-ecological transformation at the international conference CARME – Correspondence Analysis and Related Methods on 27 September 2023 in Bonn.
A cartography of the social-ecological transformation in Germany: Exploring the interconnections between classes, mentalities and modes of living
In our paper we apply a Bourdieusian relational methodology to study current societal struggles around a social-ecological transformation in Germany and try to answer the question why there is, despite scientific evidence that points to the urgent need, still not enough climate action. While knowledge and awareness of the causes and solutions are both very high, societies are not succeeding in the necessary change of infrastructures, consumption and production patterns. There is a lack of mobilization, in Latour’s words, which is more than just an attitude-behavior gap on the individual level, it also reflects power structures in society and the hegemony of mentalities oriented at growth and nature domination.
In this context, we ask: What socio-ecological mentalities and modes of living exist among the general population? Do the societal elites, i.e. the economic upper or ruling class, hold mentalities that are opposed to a social-ecological transformation? What other potentially more pro-transformative mentalities exist? And do everyday practices correspond to the socio-ecological mentalities or are there mentality-practice gaps similarly to the attitude-behavior gap?
In our empirical study we try to answer these questions with data from a representative survey we conducted in 2021/22 among the German population. Applying methods such as principal component analysis, multiple correspondence analysis and cluster analyses on a wide range of questions about respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics, socio-ecological attitudes and practices we distinguish class fractions, mentalities and modes of living. These three elements represent the analytical layers in Bourdieu’s theory of practice: positions, dispositions and position-takings (or positionings). By locating them in social space we discover their homologies and heterologies and draw a detailed and empirically rich cartography of the state of the social-ecological transformation in Germany. Political and societal conflicts are revealed as well as potential alliances for more ambitious climate action.