Negotiating sustainability in the media: critical perspectives on the popularisation of environmental concerns
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Despite intensified and concerted efforts to realise sustainable development. Western industrialised countries have in recent years experienced several mass protests against institutions perceived variously to have the potential to govern the global economy in environmentally sustainable or unsustainable ways. This thesis examines how different actors in the news media attempt to legitimate and de-legitimate neoliberal approaches to economic governance on grounds that these approaches are or are not environmentally sustainable. By using a critical discourse analysis perspective to analyse texts produced by actors with competing political commitments (neo-liberal and left-liberal), it discusses how primarily profit-driven generic conventions can govern what can and cannot be said in debates on sustainability. The thesis suggests that the effectiveness of (cultural) politics aimed at legitimating and de-legitimating neo-liberal approaches can be understood in teens of the relationship between an instrumental rationality geared at maximising the effectiveness of existing institutional systems and a communicative rationality geared at achieving understanding.
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