Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Public Discourse and Environmental Risks: Exploring gas pipeline plan and flooding scenarios in the Baltic Sea Region

Ämne: Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
Projektledare: Anna Maria Jönsson
Startår: 2010
Projekttyp: Projekt

Environmental risks transcend traditional boundaries and raise a need for new governing and communication strategies. It also challenges the role of knowledge since risk governance often is about un-known futures. What implications does this have for democracy, policy-making and the role of the citizen? In this study we wish to analyze the framing of risk issues and how different governance structures affect conditions for deliberation, communication and knowledge. What is put forward by advocates for a deliberative democracy is that decisions should be preceded by discussions in the public sphere, and that these discussions should involve those affected by the decisions. Thus, making decision-making and risk regulating processes more deliberative is mainly about making them more inclusive.

The aim of the project is to analyze the framing of environmental risk issues and the role of the public in two governance processes that are very different in nature: 1) the planned gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea (NEGP) and 2) climate change and flooding scenarios in the Baltic Sea area. The contrasts between these cases will be used in order to explore more general issues about common grounds for environmental governance and public discourse. We approach our cases as two examples of projected futures in the Baltic Sea area and wish to compare them by focusing on definition strategies and struggles to frame these futures.

In order to explore the questions about the framing of legitimate issues, construction of legitimate participants and actor identities as well as relations between expertise and publics, we will draw up three different sets of empirical material focusing on different aspects of the public discourse: 1) news media texts, 2) organised participatory processes and 3) focus groups/survey data. Each of these studies will be lead by a senior researcher with special competence in that area. The project is interdisciplinary and includes the project leader, two other senior researchers and one PhD student.

From this analysis we will contribute with knowledge regarding how environmental risks are governed and communicated in different contexts and how this creates different boundaries and common ground between experts and publics in terms of interests and identities for environmental governance and public discourse in the Baltic Sea area.