توسعه پایدار و `احساسات فازی گرم: گفتمان و طبیعت در تصورات زیست محیطی استرالیا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|29105||2004||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9285 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Geoforum, Volume 35, Issue 5, September 2004, Pages 593–606
This paper adopts the concept of `environmental imaginaries' to explore the influence of environmental discourses upon supporters of Australian environmental movements. Rather than investigate knowledge, values, attitudes or behaviour, as is often the focus of research into public environmentalism, this study analyses the presence, absence, influence and interactions of different environmental discourses at the interpersonal scale. The relative acceptability and familiarity of different environmental philosophies, with their radically different approaches to nature, has important impacts upon the political strategies, actions and directions adopted by environmental movements. Through conducting a series of ongoing discussion groups with self-identifying `environmentalists' it is found that nature is constructed predominantly through the language and concepts of sustainable development, although this discourse coexists with a number of concurrent and oppositional viewpoints. The power of sustainable development is self-sustained through the normalisation of particular languages and modes of expression. Alternative ideas and discourses are inhibited by a lack of language and familiarity and consequently disempowered and relegated to subordinate positions within discussions. The paper concludes by arguing that the lack of acceptance of alternative ecocentric ideas within the environmental community risks de-radicalising the movement and limits the diversity of political strategies and options that it could potentially adopt.
The rapid rise to prominence of environmental movements and associated environmental concerns within Western societies is a well-known and well-researched phenomenon. Earlier conceptions of human/nature relationships have been problematised and politicised as new knowledges, languages and ways of seeing have propelled nature from the boardrooms, laboratories and experiences of specialists into the domain of wider public consumption. Since the publication of Carson's Silent Spring (1963) and subsequent popular `prophets of doom' texts (e.g. Ehrlich, 1969; Meadows et al., 1972) nature has been reconstituted as `the environment' and therefore of interest to everyone it supports, rather than just to obscure and eccentric naturalists (see Macnaghten and Urry, 1998, p. 45). Environmental activists have succeeded in popularising nature throughout the world, different communities politicising different issues reflecting their unique natural and social environments. The shift from specialist to generalist knowledge in Australia began in the early 1970s when, after failing to prevent the damming of Lake Pedder in Tasmania using traditional covert lobbying tactics, activists began targeting the general public in order to overtly influence politicial decision makers. Early urban attention was generated in 1971 through the high profile `Green Bans' the Builders Labourers Federation placed upon controversial proposals that risked social or natural heritage values (see Roddewig, 1978; Anderson and Jacobs, 1999). Through public-oriented campaigning interest burgeoned in subsequent years culminating in massive street protests in both Sydney and Melbourne in 1977 opposing the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park and most famously in the successful national campaign that `saved' Tasmania's Franklin River in 1983. Since then there have been innumerable campaigns that have mobilised public attention and placed popular pressure on environmental decision-makers (for a history of the environmental movement in Australia see Hutton and Connors, 1999). The push to make nature `public' has clearly been successful. Millions of consumers throughout Australia adopt `environmentally friendly' behaviours whilst the Australian Green Party as well as environmental NGOs enjoy popular support. Nature has arrived within, and continues to inhabit, the Australian consciousness. What is less clear is the effect this popularisation of nature is having upon nature's construction. Social constructionists and philosophers have shown that we can never truly `know' nature, as our understandings of nature are shaped by the social and cultural lenses through which we see the world. This is not to argue that `there is no real nature out there', but instead that our knowledge of nature will always be, at least partly, social (see Cronon, 1996a, p. 25; Escobar, 1996, p. 46). In opening nature to public attention specialists have relinquished their authority over the constitution and meanings of nature and allowed nature to be contested by a much wider variety of stakeholders. In recent years there has been much work focusing upon this politicisation of nature, researchers variously exploring the tactics of pro-development industries (e.g. Beder, 1997; Rowell, 1996; Stauber and Rampton, 1995; Hager and Burton, 1999), the structural limitations of environmental reporting in the mass media (e.g. Anderson, 1997; Hansen, 1993), and the portrayal of nature within particular campaigns or storylines (e.g. Lee, 2002; Eden, 2002; Wondrak, 2002). Less work, however, has concentrated upon a key target of environmental politics, that being Public imaginations are Beder (1997), Rowell (1996), Anderson (1997) and others have shown that immense resources are invested in influencing how publics imagine or construct nature. Public imaginations are inherently political; if environmental stakeholders can naturalise their preferred narratives, languages and constructions of nature amongst the community, public and political support for their approaches is likely to be forthcoming. The task of this paper is to approach this under-researched area by exploring how environmentally concerned Australians have negotiated local environmental contests and come to construct and give meaning to nature. Rather than adopt the quantitative psychological approaches that dominate public opinion research (e.g. Dunlap et al., 2001) I adopt a more discursive approach theoretically informed by Peet and Watts' (1996) concept of an `environmental imaginary'. In doing so a novel approach to discussions groups as a methodology for analysing discourse is presented. The aim is to show the extent to which different environmental discourses have become entrenched within Australian environmental communities and draw conclusions about the influence of these discursive frameworks upon the future directions of the movement.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In applying the concept of environmental imaginaries to the discussions of Australian environmentalists this paper has explored the discursive frameworks prevalent at the interpersonal level. The dominance of sustainable development within environmental imaginaries favoured a resource-based construction of nature, legitimising a host of arguments and narratives based on sustainability whilst de-legitimising and silencing others. The artificial construction of the discussion groups may have influenced the individuals to be more `scientific' than they would in non-research settings (see Elwood and Martin, 2000), and there were certainly variations between groups and individuals, however the legitimacy, familiarity and power of sustainable development within discussions suggests it is likely to be influential far beyond the research setting. That sustainable development was so prominent reflects the Australian ecopolitical scene whereby governments, environmental lobby groups and industry groups have been encouraged to debate issues within the framework of sustainable development. Papadakis has explored the Federal government's attempts to encourage environmentalists and developers “to speak one language” through the establishment of Ecologically Sustainable Development groups in which opposing stakeholders met to debate environmental issues (1993, p. 128). The government's strategy has not only limited high-profile stakeholders to debates constrained within a particular discourse but, from this research, also appears to have succeeded in influencing the concepts and ideas circulating within the environmentally concerned public. Naturalising sustainable development discourses within a potentially radical and politically challenging social movement makes the movement much more amenable to relatively conservative environmental goals. Action becomes limited in at least three ways. Firstly, particular forms of individual behaviour become normalised within the environmental imagination. Sustainable development naturalises acting in `environmentally friendly' ways, involving such activities as green consumerism, recycling, energy conservation, community education and involvement in popular politicking on issues relating to sustainability. Ostracised from this imaginary are the political actions associated with alternative discourses. Hence the raids on battery farms and veganism promoted by Animal Liberation groups (e.g. Action for Animals, 2003) and naturalised within moral extensionism, or the small-scale flexible commune-style living advocated within eco-regionalism (see Sale, 1984), or the confrontational politics of the deep-ecology inspired Earth First! movement (see Foreman, 1998) remain marginalised within the environmental imagination and on the margins of appropriate environmental behaviour. Whilst the imaginary legitimises a range of activities derived from sustainable development it simultaneously de-legitimises and ostracises alternative personal-political actions and behaviours. Secondly, the range of causes or issues that can be championed by environmental activists becomes limited to those that can be legitimised amongst the environmental community using the logics and languages of sustainable development that the community is familiar with. As a consequence ecoregional critiques of scale (e.g. Schumacher, 1973), green left critiques of global capitalism (e.g. O'Connor, 1986), moral extensionist critiques of livestock industries (e.g. Singer, 1976), and ecofeminist critiques of scientific methods (e.g. Merchant, 1980) are all likely to be absent as rallying points within current environmental politics. It becomes extremely difficult to mobilise a population around issues that do not relate directly to sustainability, as it would be difficult to legitimise other issues at the interpersonal level within the current discursive framework. Hence mass action is likely to revolve around issues constructed by and identified within the discourse of sustainable development as opposed to other alternative discourses. Finally under the pluralist model of governance in Australia the norms, ideas and socially acceptable conventions influencing the environmental movement should, at least in theory, have bearing on political decision-making (see Walker, 1994). This occurs both through the political lobbying, which I have suggested will be largely constrained to sustainable development-type issues, as well as through public opinion surveys and governmental elections. The Australian government conducts regular surveys in regard to environmental concerns and attitudes to garner public opinion on various environmental issues (see Papadakis, 1996). The surveys completed by supporters of the environmental movement are likely to reflect the environmental imagination outlined in this paper, thereby promoting sustainable development-type ideals. Similarly electoral support, and electoral policy-making, will be tailored to the dominant discourses accepted by the community. More radical positions and policies, even in minority parties such as the Australian Green Party which represents the environmental movement, are likely to be marginalised. In an era of extensive `anti-environmental' PR campaigns, industry front groups and law suits aimed at silencing environmental activists (see Beder, 1997), naturalising a particular anthropocentric discourse within the movement could prove a dangerous political strategy. Whilst it gives the movement a unified front it also engages with sometimes better-resourced stakeholders on a common linguistic ground that can be constructed in ways that are very sympathetic to economic development over environmental values. In Escobar's (1996, p. 52) reading, for example, sustainable development “focuses not so much on the negative consequences of economic growth on the environment, as on the effects of environmental degradation on growth and the potential for growth”. The vibrant actions and individualism that epitomised, empowered and radicalised the early direct action-type activities of the Australian environmental movement may be ostracised and lost within the current imaginary. Whilst the growing widespread acceptance of sustainable development principles has undoubtedly assisted many environmental campaigns, an unintended impact is the silencing and de-legitimising of alternative views. Indeed it is not unthinkable that environmentalists could one day find themselves in the unusual position of, if not advocating, at least nominally approving, as happened within the discussion groups, pro-sustainable whaling or logging positions. Emotional or spiritual arguments against whaling may no longer be considered legitimate within the environmental community (contrast Hunter's, 1980 early passionate account). As Routledge and Simons have eloquently observed in a very different context, “spirits of resistance are tamed intellectually by turning the poetry of transgression into the prose of rationality” (1995, p. 475). Irrespective of the (in)adequacies of sustainable development in guiding human/nature relationships into the future perhaps the greatest concern is that a hegemony at all appears to be evolving. Each of the discourses detailed in Table 1 have been critiqued within philosophical journals and perhaps their greatest strength comes as a group in their very diversity. Similarly a strong environmental movement could be comprised of multiple viewpoints and discourses continually challenging and probing the status quo. There is some evidence in this study that this is the case with the Byron group showing a greater affinity with eco-spiritual ideas than the more urban Sydney-based groups, suggesting a shifting imaginary across space. Similarly in each group alternative ideas were expressed, if only momentarily or in hybrid or simplified forms, suggesting an interest in these ideas. Greater promotion of these alternative discourses would enhance the acceptability of the alternative political visions they present, and help avoid the constraining aspects of an evolving hegemonic environmental imaginary, in which sustainable development risks “creat[ing] a superficial consensus, effectively concealing the cultural politics of environment” (Linnros and Hallin, 2001, p. 401). If moral, emotional, spiritual or other alternative approaches, which undoubtedly inspire many within the movement, are to become politically and socially empowered and legitimate the hegemony of sustainable development must be challenged and public and political space made available for these other approaches. Both Hajer (1989) and Dobson (1995, p. 21) have commented upon the `discursive paradox of environmentalism' whereby ecocentric activists cloak their concerns in anthropocentric languages to empower them in public arenas (see also Hutton and Connors, 1999, p. 13; Naess, 1998, p. 195); the risk exposed by this research is that in doing so ecocentric beliefs become increasingly disempowered and unimportant even in these more private interpersonal arenas. If environmentalists are reluctant or unable, due to a lack of familiarity and acceptability, to present such arguments in the company of other sympathetic individuals, alternative discourses are at risk of being purely academic and socially and politically irrelevant. The fact that participants flirted with ecocentric concepts at times but did not perceive them as fully legitimate within the scope of the discussions, shows some sympathy with and potential opportunities for ecocentric politics. Now that nature is firmly in the public arena the challenge for ecocentric activists, including academics, is to remain relevant by destabilising the regime of truth imposed by sustainable development and boosting the legitimacy of alternative approaches to nature.