Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 15
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Ekholm, Sara and Olofsson, Anna 2016. Parenthood and Worrying About Climate Change: The Limitations of Previous Approaches. Risk Analysis,

    Fairbrother, Malcolm 2016. Geoengineering, moral hazard, and trust in climate science: evidence from a survey experiment in Britain. Climatic Change,

    Fløttum, Kjersti and Gjerstad, Øyvind 2016. Narratives in climate change discourse. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change,

    van de Graaff, Shashi 2016. Understanding the nuclear controversy: An application of cultural theory. Energy Policy, Vol. 97, p. 50.

    Corry, Olaf and Jørgensen, Dan 2015. Beyond ‘deniers’ and ‘believers’: Towards a map of the politics of climate change. Global Environmental Change, Vol. 32, p. 165.

    Howarth, Candice C. and Sharman, Amelia G. 2015. Labeling opinions in the climate debate: a critical review. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue. 2, p. 239.

    Jamelske, Eric Boulter, James Jang, Won Barrett, James Miller, Laurie and Han, Wen Li 2015. Examining differences in public opinion on climate change between college students in China and the USA. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Vol. 5, Issue. 2, p. 87.

    Jones, Michael D. and Radaelli, Claudio M. 2015. The Narrative Policy Framework: child or monster?. Critical Policy Studies, Vol. 9, Issue. 3, p. 339.

    Thompson, Fred and Rizova, Polly 2015. How Government Creates Value? / Kako Vlada Stvara Vrednost?. Economic Themes, Vol. 53, Issue. 4,

    Thompson, Fred and Rizova, Polly 2015. Understanding and Creating Public Value: Business is the engine, government the flywheel (and also the regulator). Public Management Review, Vol. 17, Issue. 4, p. 565.

    Krause, Rachel M. Carley, Sanya R. Warren, David C. Rupp, John A. and Graham, John D. 2014. “Not in (or Under) My Backyard”: Geographic Proximity and Public Acceptance of Carbon Capture and Storage Facilities. Risk Analysis, Vol. 34, Issue. 3, p. 529.

    Lachapelle, Erick Montpetit, Éric and Gauvin, Jean-Philippe 2014. Public Perceptions of Expert Credibility on Policy Issues: The Role of Expert Framing and Political Worldviews. Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 674.

    Warren, D. C. Carley, S. R. Krause, R. M. Rupp, J. A. and Graham, J. D. 2014. Predictors of attitudes toward carbon capture and storage using data on world views and CCS-specific attitudes. Science and Public Policy, Vol. 41, Issue. 6, p. 821.

    Ripberger, Joseph T. Song, Geoboo Nowlin, Matthew C. Jones, Michael D. and Jenkins-Smith, Hank C. 2012. Reconsidering the Relationship Between Cultural Theory, Political Ideology, and Political Knowledge. Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 93, Issue. 3, p. 713.

    Verweij, Marco Luan, Shenghua and Nowacki, Mark 2011. How to Test Cultural Theory: Suggestions for Future Research. PS: Political Science & Politics, Vol. 44, Issue. 04, p. 745.


Leading the Way to Compromise? Cultural Theory and Climate Change Opinion

  • Michael D. Jones (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 18 October 2011

Climate change is easily one of the most contentious policy problems facing the United States. A majority of climate scientists agree that the earth has warmed over the last 100 years and that human-made greenhouse gasses are the cause (e.g., Doran and Zimmerman 2009; IPCC 2007; Oreskes 2004, but also see Bray 2010), yet a nontrivial portion of the US population diverges sharply from this dominant scientific position (see, for example, Jenkins-Smith, Herron, and Silva 2010, 41–45; Leiserowitz 2006; Nisbet and Myers 2007). Why? Past research usually points to the public's lack of climate change knowledge (e.g., Kellstedt, Zahran, and Vedlitz 2008), finds that media over report the views of climate change skeptics in a misplaced quest for “balanced” reporting (e.g., Boykoff and Boykoff 2007, but see Swedlow and Wildavsky 1995), or the public simply take cues from opinion leaders whom they trust (e.g., Malka, Krosnick, and Langer 2009). This article moves beyond the predominant concern with climate change knowledge, messaging structures, and cue taking in past research, and shifts the focus to characteristics intrinsic to the individual. The research presented here assesses the extent that the cultural theory (CT) developed by Mary Douglas, Aaron Wildavsky, and others (see, e.g., Schwarz and Thompson 1990; Thompson, Ellis, and Wildavsky 1990) can help political scientists understand why so many Americans do not align themselves with the majority of scientists and can help policy makers broker compromises on climate change policy.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Robert P. Berrens , Alok K. Bohara , Hank Jenkins-Smith , Carol Silva , and David L. Weimer . 2003. “The Advent of Internet Surveys for Political Research: A Comparison of Telephone and Internet Samples.” Political Analysis 11 (1): 122.

Maxwell T. Boykoff , and Jules M. Boykoff . 2007. “Climate Change and Journalistic Norms: A Case-Study of US Mass-Media Coverage.” Geoforum 38 (6): 11901204.

Dennis Bray . 2010. “The Scientific Consensus of Climate Change Revisited.” Environmental Science and Policy 13 (5): 340–50.

Dennis Coyle , and Aaron Wildavsky . 1987. “Requisites of Radical Reform: Income Maintenance versus Tax Preferences.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 7 (1): 116.

Peter T. Doran , and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman . 2009. “Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” EOS 90 (3): 286300.

John Gastil , Don Braman , Dan Kahan , and Paul Slovic . 2011. “The Cultural Orientations of Mass Political Opinion.” PS: Political Science & Politics, this issue.

William G. Jacoby 2010. “Policy Attitudes, Ideology and Voting Behavior in the 2008 Election.” Electoral Studies 29 (4): 557–68.

Paul M. Kellstedt , Sammy Zahran , and Arnold Vedlitz . 2008. “Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the United States.” Risk Analysis 28 (1): 113–26.

Anthony Leiserowitz . 2006. “Climate Change Risk Perception and Policy Preferences: The Role of Affect, Imagery, and Values.” Climatic Change 77 (1): 4572.

Charles Lockhart . 1997. “Political Culture and Political Change.” In Culture Matters: Essays in Honor of Aaron Wildavsky, eds. Richard J. Ellis and Michael Thompson , 91104. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Martin Lodge , and Kai Wegrich . 2011. “Arguing about Financial Regulation: Comparing National Discourses on the Global Financial Crisis.” PS: Political Science & Politics, this issue.

Ariel Malka , Jon A. Krosnick , and Gary Langer . 2009. “The Association of Knowledge with Concern about Global Warming: Trusted Information Sources Shape Public Thinking.” Risk Analysis 29 (5): 633–47.

Virginie Mamadouh . 1999. “Grid-Group Cultural Theory: An Introduction.” GeoJournal 47 (3): 395409.

Matthew C. Nisbet , and Teresa Myers . 2007. “Twenty Years of Public Opinion about Global Warming.” Public Opinion Quarterly 71 (3): 444–70.

Naomi Oreskes . 2004. “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” Science 306 (5702): 1686.

Steve Rayner , and Elizabeth L. Malone . 1998. Human Choice and Climate Change: The Societal Framework. First ed. Columbus, OH: Battelle Press.

Michiel Schwarz , and Michael Thompson 1990. Divided We Stand: Redefining Politics, Technology and Social Choice. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Brendon Swedlow . 2011. “Cultural Surprises as Sources of Sudden, Big Policy Change.” PS: Political Science & Politics, this issue.

Michael Thompson , Richard Ellis , and Aaron Wildavsky . 1990. Cultural Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Marco Verweij . 2006. “Is the Kyoto Protocol Merely Irrelevant, or Positively Harmful, for the Efforts to Curb Climate Change?” In Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: Governance, Politics, and Plural Perceptions, ed. Marco Verweij and Michael Thompson , 3160. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Marco Verweij , Mary Douglas , Richard Ellis , Christoph Engel , Frank Hendriks , Susanne Lohmann , Steve Ney , Steve Rayner , and Michael Thompson . 2006. “Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: The Case of Climate Change.” Public Administration 84 (4): 817–43.

Dan B. Wood , and Arnold Vedlitz . 2007. “Issue Definition, Information Processing, and the Politics of Global Warming.” American Journal of Political Science 51 (3): 552–68.

Asim Zia , and Anne Marie Todd . 2010. “Evaluating the Effects of Ideology on Public Understanding of Climate Change Science: How to Improve Communication across Ideological Divides?Public Understanding of Science 19 (6): 743–61.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *