Climate-friendly food choices among late adolescents: Facing border tensions as a path to transformational change?


How should everyday pro-environmental behaviors such as climate-friendly food choices be looked upon in the context of transformational change: As something that hides the need for structural change, or as a starting point for a profound transformation? In an article published in a special issue in the journal Climate Maria Ojala explores emotions experienced by young people who try to live in a sustainable way in a more or less unsustainable society, so called border tensions.

Maria Ojala in an interview study with late adolescents, who make climate-friendly food choices to a high degree, explores which emotions, or border tensions, they experience in relation to difficulties and conflicts in making these choices. She also investigates how they cope with these emotions and discusses the results in relation to learning for societal change.  

The results show that the youths mainly felt individualized emotions of guilt, helplessness, and irritation and that they coped primarily by distancing themselves from emotions felt, but also sometimes in a problem-focused way and through positive reappraisal. Results are discussed in relation to theories about critical emotional awareness and prefigurative politics. It is argued that by taking account of emotional aspects related to everyday conflicts in a critical manner, issues such as justice could be brought to the surface and transformative learning could be enhanced. 

Ojala, M. (2022). How do young people deal with border tensions when making climate friendly food choices? On the importance of critical emotional awareness for learning for societal change. Climate, 10(8), Special Issue: Anthropogenic Climate Change: Social Science Perspectives Read more about the results here