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Session Overview
RN22_02a_P: Public Discourses and Media Representations of Risk I
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Aiste Balzekiene, Kaunas university of technology
Location: PC.5.29
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 5.

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Discourse-semantic differences in national climate change debates: UK and Germany

Marcus Müller1, Jens O. Zinn2

1TU Darmstadt, Germany; 2University of Melbourne, Australia

Since Beck claimed that new mega risks such as nuclear power, genetically modified food, terrorism and climate change would transform the social world into a risk society, scholars have come back to emphasizing the forces which shape different national responses to risk. The media are a socially central arena for societal debates which reflect public understanding and responses to risk while the media themselves have been identified for mediating public understanding of risk (Tulloch & Zinn 2011). This is the case on the level of national media cultures (Grundmann & Scott 2014) as well as newspaper specific stance (Müller & Vogel 2012). In this presentation we employ corpus linguistics methods to analyze differences in the understanding and discursive representation of climate change risk in newspapers from the United Kingdom and Germany from 2003 to 2013. We show that in the UK ‘risk’ is communicated twice as much as in Germany. In the German context the explicitly negative phrases such as Bedrohung and Gefährung are significantly more in use than respective concepts in the UK (hazard, threat). There is a tendency to refer in the UK news to the risky future of the climate change world more generally while in the German discourse pragmatic strategies to manage hazard (Bedrohung) and threat (Gefährdung) of climate change dominate. We will conclude with possible reasons for these differences.

Constructing the space of the local media: the political attitudes of the local mass-media and their environmental risk representations

Efim Fidrya, Olga Fidrya

Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Russian Federation

This is the study of the environmental risks representations constructed by the local mass-media and the relation between the images constructed and the political attitudes represented by these media. The theoretical concept we used is the 'social space' theory developed by Pierre Bourdieu. We assume the risk images represented by mass media are not simply 'reflecting' the 'objective reality', but rather constructed depending on their social and political attitudes, conditioned by the mass-media's position in the respective field of the symbolical production.

This research is based on the case study of the media representation of the risks of the development of the salt mining in the village of Nivenskoye in Kaliningrad region. Data was collected using content analysis of all publications made in the local media on this topic since the beginning of the salt mine development in 2014.

We measured some key characteristics of the mass-media (number of unique visitors, circulation, frequency, amount of state funding etc.) and the attitudes towards the key political actors (federal and regional authorities), the number and the tone of the publications on the topic, and also the way the risks were depicted (kinds of risk, its causes and potential victims).

In order to analyze the relations between these variables the multiple correspondence analysis was used, and the resulting space of the local mass media was constructed with the risk images as an active categories, and the mass media characteristics and the political attitudes they represent as a supplementary categories. The consistent groups (clusters) of media with the distinct risk representation dispositions and specific characteristics were outlined and characterized.

Interpretative Repertoires of Environmental Risks in Discourses on Urban Infrastructure Projects in Lithuania

Audrone Telesiene

Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

The presentation aims at discussing environmental risk communication in cases of urban infrastructure projects. Specifically, the focus is on the social constructions of environmental risks, as being discussed by different urban infrastructure projects’ stakeholders (e.g. municipality, developers, local communities, etc.). EU directive on environmental liability obliges the stakeholders to take the environmental impact and the possible mitigation measures into account. The stakeholders are also required to properly inform the society and communicate about the projects, the anticipated impacts and compensatory measures.

The author of this presentation draws on discourse theory and ‘interpretive repertoires’ as an analytic concept to analyze the forms of language the discourse makes available for articulating possible environmental risks.

Results presented during this conference are part of a wider project that is generally designed to foster sustainable urban development, by analyzing experiences related to urban infrastructure projects, their environmental impact, and environment compensation measures in Lithuania and Sweden.

Data for discourse analysis includes texts produced by various stakeholders and published in public media channels (newspapers, web pages, forums, etc.) and related to Lithuanian urban infrastructure projects cases. NVivo is used for data processing. Questions to be discussed: What risks of urban infrastructure projects are discursively constructed and what interpretive repertoires are formed? By what discursive and rhetoric means? Do the discourses encourage or discourage (or provide other repertoire of meanings) the environmental compensation measures in urban infrastructure projects in Lithuania?

The research project ‘The Perception and Practices of Environmental Compensation: Urban Infrastructure Projects in Lithuania and Sweden (EnCoM)’ is funded by a grant (No. MIP‐011/2015) from the Research Council of Lithuania.

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