Exploring Local Knowledge on Climate Variability in Bangladesh: a Cultural Psychological Inquiry

Abstract

This article looks at the impact of climate variability on communities in northeast Bangladesh through narrative-based interviews with community actors. We investigate the construction of climate knowledge looking particularly at processes of knowing by applying a cultural psychological approach. The findings reveal that personal experiences with weather were the most common source of knowledge on climate variability. Existing knowledge systems, such as the seasonal calendar aided participants in reasoning and sense making about changes, and elders, media outlets, and science formed the most trusted sources of climate information. Lessons drawn from the study emphasize a need to include cultural and contextual factors when investigating how people construct and build climate knowledge in the future.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Abelson, R. P. (1979). Difference between belief systems and knowledge systems. Cognitive Science, 3, 355–366. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15516709cog0304_4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ahmed, I., Deaton, B. J., Sarker, R., & Virani, T. (2008). Wetland ownership and management in a common property resource setting: A case study of Hakaluki Haor in Bangladesh. Ecological Economics, 68(1–2), 429–436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2008.04.016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Akerlof, K., Maibach, E. W., Fitzgerald, D., Cedeno, A. Y., & Neuman, A. (2013). Do people “personally experience” global warming, and if so how, and does it matter? Global Environmental Change, 23(1), 81–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.07.006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Atran, S., Medin, D. L., & Ross, N. O. (2005). The cultural mind: environmental decision making and cultural modeling within and across populations. Psychological Review, 112(4), 744–776. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.112.4.744.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. (2013). District statistics: Moulvibazaar 2011. Bangladesh: Dhaka.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Becken, S., Lama, A. K., & Espiner, S. (2013). The cultural context of climate change impacts: Perceptions among community members in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. Environmental Development, 8, 22–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envdev.2013.05.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Berkes, F. (2009). Indigenous ways of knowing and the study of environmental change. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(4), 151–156. https://doi.org/10.1080/03014220909510568.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Berkes, F., Colding, J., & Folke, C. (2000). Rediscovery of traditional ecological knowledge as adaptive management. Ecological Applications, 10(5), 1251–1262. https://doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(2000)010[1251:ROTEKA]2.0.CO;2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Boillat, S., & Berkes, F. (2013). Perception and interpretation of climate change among Quechua farmers of Bolivia: Indigenous knowledge as a resource for adaptive capacity. Ecology and Society, 18(4). https://doi.org/10.5751/es-05894-180421.

  10. Boissière, M., Locatelli, B., Sheil, D., Padmanaba, M., & Sadjudin, E. (2013). Local perceptions of climate variability and change in tropical forests of Papua, Indonesia. Ecology and Society, 18(4). https://doi.org/10.5751/es-05822-180413.

  11. Bremer, S., Blanchard, A., Mamnun, N., Stiller-Reeve, M., Haque, M. M., & Tvinnereim, E. (2017). Narrative as a method for eliciting tacit knowledge of climate variability in Bangladesh. Weather, Climate, and Society, 9(4), 669–686.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bryan, E., Deressa, T. T., Gbetibouo, G. A., & Ringler, C. (2009). Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: Options and constraints. Environmental Science & Policy, 12(4), 413–426. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2008.11.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Byg, A., & Salick, J. (2009). Local perspectives on a global phenomenon—Climate change in eastern Tibetan villages. Global Environmental Change, 19(2), 156–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2009.01.010.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chiu, C.-Y., & Hong, Y.-Y. (2006). Social psychology of culture. New York: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Choudhury, W. A., Quraishi, F. A., & Haque, Z. (2006). Mental health and psychosocial aspects of disaster preparedness in Bangladesh. International Review of Psychiatry, 18(6), 529–535. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540260601037896.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Dewan, T. H. (2015). Societal impacts and vulnerability to floods in Bangladesh and Nepal. Weather and Climate Extremes, 7, 36–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2014.11.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Gardner, K. (1999). Global migrants and local shrines: The shifting geography of Islam in Sylhet, Bangladesh. In I. L. O. Manger (Ed.), Muslim Diversity: Local Islam in Global Contexts (s. 260). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Greider, T., & Garkovich, L. (1994). Landscapes: The social construction of nature and the environment. Rural Sociology, 59(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1549-0831.1994.tb00519.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Grothmann, T., & Patt, A. (2005). Adaptive capacity and human cognition: The process of individual adaptation to climate change. Global Environmental Change, 15(3), 199–213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2005.01.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2–3), 61–83; discussion 83-135. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152X.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). The development of epistemological theories: Beliefs about knowledge and knowing and their relation to learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88–140. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543067001088.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Jasanoff, S. (2010). A new climate for society. Theory, Culture & Society, 27(2–3), 233–253. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276409361497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Lewicki, R.J., & Bunker, B.B. (1996). Developing and Maintaining Trust in Working Relationships. In: Kramer, R.M and Tyler, T. R., Eds., Trust in Organizations: Frontiers in Theory and Research: Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. 114–139.

  24. Lewicki, R. J., Tomlinson, E. C., & Gillespie, N. (2006). Models of interpersonal trust development: Theoretical approaches, empirical evidence, and future directions. Journal of Management, 32(6), 991–1022. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206306294405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Li, P. P. (2012). When trust matters the most: The imperatives for contextualising trust research. Journal of Trust Research, 2(2), 101–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/21515581.2012.708494.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Lorenzoni, L., & Pidgeon, N. F. (2006). Public views on climate change: European and USA perspectives. Climatic Change, 77(1–2), 73–95. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-006-9072-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. The Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709–734. https://doi.org/10.2307/258792.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Moghariya, D. P., & Smardon, R. C. (2012). Rural perspectives of climate change: A study from Saurastra and Kutch of Western India. Public Understanding of Science, 23(6), 660–677. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662512465698.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Murray, M. (2000). Levels of narrative analysis in health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 5(3), 337–347. https://doi.org/10.1177/135910530000500305.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Patterson, O. (2014). Making sense of culture. Annual Review of Sociology, 40(1), 1–30. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Paul, B. K. (1997). Flood research in Bangladesh in retrospect and prospect: a review. Geoforum, 28(2), 121–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7185(97)00004-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Roncoli, C., Ingram, K., & Kirshen, P. (2002). Reading the rains: Local knowledge and rainfall forecasting in Burkina Faso. Society & Natural Resources, 15(5), 409–427. https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920252866774.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Ruddle, K. (2000). Systems of knowledge: Dialogue, relationships and process. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 2(3–4), 277–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Schweder, R. A. (1991). Cultural psychology—What is it? Thinking through cultures: expeditions in cultural psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Shameem, M., Momtaz, S., & Kiem, A. S. (2015). Local perceptions of and adaptation to climate variability and change: The case of shrimp farming communities in the coastal region of Bangladesh. Climatic Change, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1470-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Shapiro, D.L., Sheppard, B. H., & Cheraskin, L. (1992). Business on a Handshake. Negotiation Journal, 8, 365–377. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1571-9979.1992.tb00679.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Sutter, M., & Kocher, M. G. (2007). Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups. Games and Economic Behavior, 59(2), 364–382. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geb.2006.07.006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Swim, J. K., Stern, P. C., Doherty, T. J., Clayton, S., Reser, J. S., Weber, E. U., et al. (2011). Psychology’s contributions to understanding and addressing global climate change. American Psychologist, 66(4), 241–250. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023220.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2014). Synthesis Report: Summary for Policymakers. In Climate Change 2014:Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K., and Meyer, L.A., (Eds.)] (p. 5.) IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, pp. 155. https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full_wcover.pdf. Accessed 10 October 2015.

  40. Thomas, R. M. (2001). Knowing. Folk psychologies across cultures. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc..

    Google Scholar 

  41. Transforming Climate Knowledge with and for Society. (2015). About TRACKS. Retrieved Oct 1, 2015, from http://projecttracks.net/about/

  42. Vedwan, N., & Rhoades, R. E. (2001). Climate change in the western Himalayas of India: A study of local perception and response. Climate Research, 15, 109–117. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr019109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Weber, E.U. (2010). What shapes perceptions of climate change? WIREs Clim Change, 1, 332–342. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.41.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Weber, E. U., & Stern, P. C. (2011). Public understanding of climate change in the United States. The American Psychologist, 66(4), 315–328. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023253.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Firstly, we would like to thank the participants for sharing their stories and time with us. The authors would also like to thank the TRACKS project, especially Scott Bremer who contributed greatly to the paper with his guidance and feedback. Furthermore we would like to thank BCAS and the Bangladeshi research teams for organizing the data collection during fieldwork in Bangladesh. This study was made possible by the TRACKS project which is funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the KLIMAFORSK program.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Madeleine Brørs Midtgaard.

Ethics declarations

This study makes use of the data material belonging to the 646 TRACKS project, which received ethics approval from The Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) on 647 the 1st of December 2014.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Midtgaard, M.B., Madsen, O.J. Exploring Local Knowledge on Climate Variability in Bangladesh: a Cultural Psychological Inquiry. Hu Arenas 1, 431–448 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42087-018-0031-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Climate knowledge
  • Weather
  • Personal epistemology
  • Cultural psychology
  • Bangladesh