Who Is Feeling the Heat?: Vulnerabilities and Exposures to Heat Stress—Individual, Social, and Housing Explanations

in Nature and Culture
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Abstract

Ongoing climate change has led to an increase in extreme temperatures, which influence both the environment and human beings. However, not everyone is affected by heat stress to the same degree. This article analyzes who is affected by subjective heat stress. Individual and social indicators of vulnerability and exposure—mediated by conditions of housing and living environments—are considered simultaneously, from the sociological perspective of social inequality influences. Using local data from an empirical survey in Nuremberg, Germany, the article shows that age, individual health, and social contexts all explain variations in how people experience heat stress. It is further hypothesized and confirmed that heat exposure due to disadvantaged housing conditions or distance from green space increases the levels of subjective heat stress. When looking at differences in levels of subjective heat stress, the consideration of heat exposure due to social vulnerability and socioeconomic reasons offers some explanations.

Contributor Notes

Katharina Seebaß is sociologist and lecturer at the Chair of Empirical Economic Sociology at the University of Nuremberg-Erlangen, Germany. She obtained a research doctorate in health sociology at University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in November 2016. Her research interests are environmental sociology, sociology of health, rural sociology, social inequality, and empirical methods of sociology. E-mail: Katharina.seebass@fau.de

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