Public Understanding of Plastic Pollution

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Public understanding of plastic pollution and the communication of risk by the media

Principle Investigator: Dr Lesley Henderson, Brunel University London

Co-Investigator: Dr Christopher Green, Brunel University London

“Making sense of plastic pollution: A UK study of images, messages and perceptions of (micro)plastics”

An inter disciplinary study into UK public perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours concerning plastic pollution. This is a unique collaboration involving social scientists, eco-toxicologists, and BBC natural history film makers. We explore how ideas about microplastics are mediated by culturally embedded notions of what is risky or harmful and explore the wider role of media in mediating messages and creating “frames of understanding” about the associated environmental and health risks of (micro) plastics.

“(Micro) Plastic Pollution in the Media: Adventure Documentary, News and Public Understandings”

This focuses on the adventure documentary film “A Plastic Ocean” (2017). How has this film been specially created to raise awareness and bring about social change in regard to plastics? This study addresses the possibilities concerning the use of documentary film for social change. The study involves systematic media content analysis (2014-15), online deliberative survey tools, and focus groups. It provides insights into how we can involve the public in culturally appropriate education strategies to change our behaviour regarding plastic waste and the ways in which culturally embedded ideas concerning risk and health intersect with and potentially also undermine the film’s messages.