The urgency of the environmental crisis has necessitated a significant shift away from anthropocentric views, recognising the extensive impacts of human activities that surpass both material and ethical boundaries (Villa, 2020; Lorenzini and Raugi, 2020; Blasutig and Delli Zotti, 2020). The challenges posed by climate change, air pollution and waste management necessitate a transformative approach in human behaviours to ensure a sustainable future for all generations. In this context, youths emerge as key actors, displaying a range of attitudes from active defence of the planet to a state of vulnerability, influenced by various socio-environmental factors. In the urban setting of Catania, where negative perceptions are amplified by the #Satania hashtag on social media, the portrayal of the city as uncivilised is linked to a lack of social and educational institutional responsibility and the harmful actions of small criminal groups, further deteriorating the environmental quality. Our study, part of a larger research project started in 2021, considers an up-to-date 2024 dataset taken from social media platforms to scrutinise the media representations of contradictions in the ecological behaviours of young people in Catania, focusing on the disparity between their stated commitments to environmental sustainability and their actual behaviours. A semiotic multimodal approach was employed, incorporating an expanded range of photographic images and audio-videographic recordings, all gathered in the Mediterranean urban context of Catania, Sicily. The framework for analysing these data was based on Kress and Van Leuwen’s (1996; 2006) model, which facilitated the interpretation of the visual representations of youth behaviour in relation to instances of vandalism and institutional neglect. Our analysis showed the relevance of an interplay between environmental degradation and social elements, highlighting the important role of youth engagement in tackling the environmental crisis. The study emphasised how perceived government inaction and social disenfranchisement influence the actions of urban youth towards the environment. It was observed that these social conditions do not only lead to inaction; they can also inspire youth to engage in activism and environmental stewardship, despite the challenging context that often hampers these efforts (Gislason, Kennedy and Witham, 2021; Pihkala, 2020). By exploring these behavioural contradictions, the study offers useful insights into the sociopolitical aspects of urban youth’s engagement with environmental issues. It also underscores the value of semiotic analysis in understanding the complex narratives surrounding youth and environmental engagement.

Contradictions in Ecological Behaviour among Urban Youth: Multimodal Insights into Climate Anxiety and Social Responsibility

Augusto Gamuzza;Davide Nicolosi;Simona Rita Coco
2024-01-01

Abstract

The urgency of the environmental crisis has necessitated a significant shift away from anthropocentric views, recognising the extensive impacts of human activities that surpass both material and ethical boundaries (Villa, 2020; Lorenzini and Raugi, 2020; Blasutig and Delli Zotti, 2020). The challenges posed by climate change, air pollution and waste management necessitate a transformative approach in human behaviours to ensure a sustainable future for all generations. In this context, youths emerge as key actors, displaying a range of attitudes from active defence of the planet to a state of vulnerability, influenced by various socio-environmental factors. In the urban setting of Catania, where negative perceptions are amplified by the #Satania hashtag on social media, the portrayal of the city as uncivilised is linked to a lack of social and educational institutional responsibility and the harmful actions of small criminal groups, further deteriorating the environmental quality. Our study, part of a larger research project started in 2021, considers an up-to-date 2024 dataset taken from social media platforms to scrutinise the media representations of contradictions in the ecological behaviours of young people in Catania, focusing on the disparity between their stated commitments to environmental sustainability and their actual behaviours. A semiotic multimodal approach was employed, incorporating an expanded range of photographic images and audio-videographic recordings, all gathered in the Mediterranean urban context of Catania, Sicily. The framework for analysing these data was based on Kress and Van Leuwen’s (1996; 2006) model, which facilitated the interpretation of the visual representations of youth behaviour in relation to instances of vandalism and institutional neglect. Our analysis showed the relevance of an interplay between environmental degradation and social elements, highlighting the important role of youth engagement in tackling the environmental crisis. The study emphasised how perceived government inaction and social disenfranchisement influence the actions of urban youth towards the environment. It was observed that these social conditions do not only lead to inaction; they can also inspire youth to engage in activism and environmental stewardship, despite the challenging context that often hampers these efforts (Gislason, Kennedy and Witham, 2021; Pihkala, 2020). By exploring these behavioural contradictions, the study offers useful insights into the sociopolitical aspects of urban youth’s engagement with environmental issues. It also underscores the value of semiotic analysis in understanding the complex narratives surrounding youth and environmental engagement.
2024
978-84-9082-680-5
Ecology, climate, youth, eco-anxiety, multimodal semantic
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/618123
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