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Att bli miljömedveten: Perspektiv på miljöhandbokens textvärld
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is the study of environmental consciousness as a discursive educational project. The empirical material consist of 18 environmental handbooks that have been published in Sweden during the years 1976-2007 of which 13 appeared between 1988 and 1995. The research work uses the basic assumptions of discourse analysis, namely that language is an important factor in the construction and development of social norms and values. Three areas recieve close attention: questions relating to the form and content of the handbooks, questions relating to the social circumstances in which the handbooks were produced and questions relating to the overall educational significance of the handbooks. In the first instance, the handbooks are examined in the light of three different contextual stories. They can be read as part of wider discussions of environmentally-concsious life-styles, as a development of earlier Swedish discussions about domesticity, health, thrift and consumption, and, finally they can be read as an expression of a narrative about a dominant aspect of modernity – science. The second part of the research work comprises an examination of the handbooks in terms of their audience and educational purpose. What kind of individual is to be shaped by these handbooks? What is anticipated as the desired or ideal environmentalist? Discourse analysis suggests that, collectively, the handbooks project an image of somone who displays qualities of motivation, investigation and judgement. They should be motivated to begin a process of change in their lives, to encourage others to do the same, and to adopt the environmental problems as their own personal problems. The second quality pursued in the handbooks is of someone who should take an active stance towards the environment as a pervasive element in their way of life. They should, therefore, adopt an investigative attitude to the surrounding world, cultivate certain cognitive properties such as watchfulness, thoughtfulness and being suspicious, and constantly ask questions about their surroundings with a view to understanding how actions in their private world has an effect on the wider world. And thirdly, the ideal environmentalist citizen should be someone who demonstrates judgement in balancing polarities and resolving the claims of different standpoints. They should give attention to separating right from wrong, wisdom from madness and, above all, to finding a way of linking their own efforts to what is worth striving for and what is worth avoiding or neglecting. In summary, the subjects identified in the handbooks are expected to avoid extreme positions, to place their own expectations about sustainability on a suitable level, and to be prepared for failure and feelings of guilt. The final part of the investigation – interpreting the wider significance of the handbooks – uses a pluralistic model of analysis which takes its departure from three concepts – ecological modernisation, governmentality and the risk society. Using these orientations, the extent of the discursive educational project of the environmental handbooks is highlighted. If the handbooks are regarded as modernist prescriptions, they are texts which highlights slow and careful change taking place within the present power structure of society. If they are regarded as texts that offer a governmentality prescription, they can be read as texts which promote the transformation of everyday micropractices. And if they are regarded as prescriptions for a risk society, they are texts which enable readers to come to terms with confusion and powerlessness in a complex and risky social context. One main result is that the environmental handbooks display interesting similarities, worthy of futher exploration, supported by a broadened empirical base.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Pedagogik , 2007. , 154 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 82
Keyword [sv]
miljömedvetenhet, miljövänlig livsstil, discourse analysis, ecological modernization, governmentality, risk society, diskursanalys, handböcker, ekologisk modernisering, styrbarhetsmentalitet, risksamhälle, environmental consciousness, environment-friendly life-style, handbooks
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1330ISBN: 978-91-7264-352-9OAI: diva2:140672
Public defence
2007-09-15, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-09-03 Created: 2007-09-03 Last updated: 2010-02-19Bibliographically approved

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Adenling, Elinor
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