Mapping Environmental Discourses

Having just finished writing a sub-chapter of my PhD I decided that a new model was needed to address certain problems. I am not going to publish the whole discussion yet. This new diagram attempts to reflect power dynamics and ideological positions of dominant environmental discourses.

The model is premised on the idea that discourses that suit business interests are legitimized at the expense of discourses that more profoundly problematise current industrial practices. To a large extent, the market determines what information is publicly available because communications either take the form of marketing and/or are produced by industries that are dependent on advertising. Discursive discipline marginalizes critical positions. Furthermore, discourses are not always made explicit; vested interests will mask their intentions to influence policy that works in their favour. The green capitalism discourse is hegemonic but as crises continue to accelerate, a more coersive type of ‘disaster capitalism’ emerges (Klein, 2008).

John Drysek’s environmental discourses (from his book The Politics of the Earth – see below):

Diagram is based on John Drysek’s The Politics of the Earth, Oxford University Press, 2005.

Update. March 22nd – The new framework can be seen to reflect the scenarios work EcoLabs did in 2009 based on Holmgren’s Future Scenarios. There is an important difference. Holmgreen’s scenarios frames these four quarters according to rates of severity of climate change and oil depletion. These scenarios are different from the discourses because they are modelled not just around ideological assumptions but on geo-physical impacts – and yet there is some common ground. Similarities may stem from the fact that occurances in the natural world will encourage certain discourses and others are dependent on the relative prosperity that stable ecological systems provide.


More on these scenarios can be found in No.1 EcoMag (Pdf download here).

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