A MEMETIC/PARTICIPATORY APPROACH FOR CHANGING SOCIAL BEHAVIORS AND PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP IN JALISCO, MEXICO
Robles Diaz de Leon, Luisa Fernanda
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This dissertation addressed the issue of sustainable development at the level of individual behaviors. Environmental perceptions were obtained from people living around the biosphere reserve Chamela-Cuixmala in Jalisco, Mexico. Several environmental issues were identified by the people, such as garbage and grey water on the streets, burning plastics, and the lack of usage of recreational areas. All these issues could be addressed with a change in behavior by the villagers. Familiarization activities were conducted to gain people's trust in order to conduct a community forum. These activities included giving talks to school children and organizing workshops. Four different methodologies were generated using memetics and participation to test which would ameliorate those environmental issues identified by the people through a change in behavior. The methodologies were 1) Memes; 2) Participation and Memes; 3) Participation; 4) Neither Participation nor Memes. A meme is an idea expressed within a linguistic structure or architecture that provides it with self-disseminating and self-protecting characteristics within and among the minds of individuals congruent with their values, beliefs and filters. Four villages were chosen as the treatments, and one as the control, for a total of five experimental villages. A different behavior was addressed in each treatment village (garbage, grey-water, burning plastics, recreation.) A nonequivalent control-group design was established. A pretest was conducted in all five villages; the methodologies were tested in the four treatment villages; a posttest was conducted on the five villages. The pretest and posttest consisted in measuring sensory specific indicators which are manifestations of behavior that can either be seen, smelled, touched, heard or tasted. Statistically significant differences in behavior from the control were found for two of the methodologies 1) Memes (p=0.0403) and 2) Participation and Memes (p=0.0064). For the methodologies of 3) Participation alone and 4) Neither, the differences were not significant (p=0.8827, p=0.5627 respectively). When using memes, people's behavior improved when compared to the control. Participation alone did not generate a significant difference. Participation aided in the generation of the memes. Memetics is a tool that can be used to establish a linkage between human behavior and ecological health.