Does discourse matter? Discourse analysis in environmental policy making

  • Feindt P
  • Oels A
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This Special Issue is concerned with theories and methodologies of discourse analysis and their contribution to environmental policy research in particular. It is a response to three theoretical challenges in the field of environmental policy and public management of natural resources: (i) environmental policy problems are obviously the effect of social constructions although they concern ‘natural’ objects; (ii) struggles about concepts, knowledge and meaning are an essential element of environmental policy; (iii) environmental discourse has material and power effects as well as being the effect of material practices and power relations. These three challenges question to what extent is environmental policy about ‘nature’ and the ‘environment’?\r
After shortly explaining these challenges, this introduction will sketch out particularities of the discursive perspective and distinguish between a Foucaultian and non-Foucaultian perspective. Following this, it will be shown how the contributors to the Special Issue use discourse analysis to treat nature and environment as contested concepts. The paper concludes with a discussion concerning achievements of and challenges to discourse analysis in environmental policy and planning.

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  • Peter H Feindt

  • Angela Oels

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