This study tries to show how the different modes of the fact of urban dwelling relate to the different forms and types of behaviour and representations of reality in relation to the present and future environmental problems, and their probable and desirable solutions, of Antarctica. On the basis of a theoretical socio-ecological and socio-existential discussion, together with a ‘rootedness’ approach, the results of a comparative study on young inhabitants (15–25 years old) of the Patagonian city of San Carlos de Bariloche, and the city of Buenos Aires, are analysed in order to ascertain their representations, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours, in relation to Antarctica, its environmental problems, and possible solutions to them.
‘Rootedness’ is considered as a ‘total phenomenon’: multidimensional and interdependent among its different dimensions, spatial, social, and cultural, and also as an explanatory variable, together with anomie, (taken in this context as being an individual and/or structural situation that emerged when subjects do not feel that the current normative and axiological framework applies to them), participation, and consumerism. These variables were measured and related to different attitudes and behaviours of the young inhabitants in question.
Individuals with a high ‘rootedness’ level, and a low anomie level tend to identify environmental problems as dealing with immediate human action in terms of depredation and/or direct pollution. At the same time, this type of social actor (‘rooted’ and not anomic) tends to give priority as a solution to the socialisation and information processes. Perhaps a clear visualisation, coupled with a clear experience of the normative-axiological web of a given society could anchor individuals so that they could be in a better position to identify environmental problems, as well as possible causes and solutions thereof. A high grade of anomie causes subjects to envisage the future in a most pessimistic way.
Control and punishment as a means of remedying environmental problems tend to be emphasised predominantly among subjects within the 20–25 age range, and within a higher percentage of females. The same solution is also suggested by individuals suffering from a low actual, as well as potential, participation level.
Antarctica tends to be seen as the Terra Incognita. The high percentage of subjects that do not answer or say that they do not know the Antarctic issue can be summed up as a predominant ‘couldn't-care-less’, indifference many young people demonstrate with respect to the continent. The imaginary Antarctica, as a fruit of an aesthetic, poetic, and utopian vision is predominantly present among young people with a lower level of consumerism orientated life, a low anomie level and a high grade of potential participation, that is, individuals endowed with sufficient energy to experience and go ahead in concepts in which Antarctica rises as a metaphor of beauty, mystery, purity, virginity, and as the last shelter. Conversely, a more pragmatic and conflict aimed vision of Antarctica is to be found in a higher ratio among young people with the highest socio-economic level (SEL).