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Christine Wamsler. Photo

Christine Wamsler

Professor, Docent, appointed Excellent Teaching Practitioner (ETP)

Christine Wamsler. Photo

Meaning-making in a context of climate change : Supporting agency and political engagement


  • Christine Wamsler
  • Gustav Osberg
  • Anna Panagiotou
  • Beth Smith
  • Peter Stanbridge
  • Walter Osika
  • L. Mundaca

Summary, in English

Responding effectively to climate change requires an understanding of what shapes people’s individual and collective sense of agency and responsibility towards the future. It also requires transforming this understanding into political engagement to support systems change. Based on a national representative survey in Sweden (N = 1,237), this research uses the novel SenseMaker methodology to look into these matters. More specifically, in order to understand the social and institutional prerequisites that must be in place to develop inclusive climate responses, we investigate how citizens perceive their everyday life and future, and the implications for their sense of responsibility, agency, and political engagement. Our research findings show how citizens perceive and act on climate change (individually, cooperatively, and by supporting others), their underlying values, beliefs, emotions and paradigms, inter-group variations, and obstacles and enablers for change. The findings reveal that, in general, individual and public climate action is perceived as leading to improved (rather than reduced) wellbeing and welfare. At the same time, climate anxiety and frustration about structural and governance constraints limit agency, whilst positive emotions and inner qualities, such as human–nature connections, support both political engagement and wellbeing. Our results shed light on individual, collective, and structural capacities that must be supported to address climate change. They draw attention to the need to develop new forms of citizen involvement and of policy that can explicitly address these human interactions, inner dimensions of thinking about and acting on climate change, and the underlying social paradigms. We conclude with further research needs and policy recommendations.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
  • The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics

Publishing year







Climate Policy





Document type

Journal article


Taylor & Francis


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Social Psychology


  • behaviour change
  • climate change mitigation
  • climate change adaptation
  • transformation
  • participation
  • climate policy integration




  • Transition Visions: Coupling society, well-being and energy systems for transitioning to a fossil-free society
  • The Contemplative Sustainable Futures Program


  • ISSN: 1752-7457