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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

A key political-strategic question facing those aiming to foster environmental action is, When and how do environmental concerns resonate widely with citizens? This question invites reflection upon the rhetoric of “sacrifice,” especially as often deployed within wealthy consumer societies. This rhetoric has become a political sticking point that often entangles environmental discourse in a false dichotomy between sacrifice and self-interest and thereby constrains the political imaginary. By challenging this dichotomy we can draw attention to the ubiquity of notions of sacrifice in everyday life, thereby defusing its ability to shut down ambitious proposals for action. We might use this insight to reorient talk about sacrifice in a manner that expands our imaginary and opens up broader possibilities for democratic change.

Keywords: sacrifice, environmental discourse, democratic change, self-interest, rhetoric

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