Наукова стаття Environemental discourse and research perspectives
Код роботи: 1392
Вид роботи: Наукова стаття
Предмет: Сучасна лінгвістика (англійська мова)
Тема: Environemental discourse and research perspectives
Кількість сторінок: 11
Дата виконання: 2016
Мова написання: англійська
В.В. Корольчук. Наукові підходи до екологічного дискурсу. У статті розглянуто різні погляди на екологічний дискурс. Основним аргументом є той факт, що екологічні проблеми в цілому та екологічний занепад зокрема, будучи першочерговими питаннями глобального масштабу, є на разі суттєвим предметом обговорення у лінгвістиці. Розглядаючи різні визначення цього типу дискурсу, автор приділяє особливу увагу теоріям Джона Дрижека та Пітера Мюльхойслера.
Ключові слова: екологічний дискурс, сурвівалізм, раціоналізм, прагматизм.
В.В. Корольчук. Научные подходы к экологическому дискурсу. В статье рассмотрены различные взгляды на экологический дискурс. Основным аргументом является тот факт, что экологические проблемы в целом и экологический упадок в частности, будучи первоочередными вопросами глобального масштаба, есть предмет обсуждения в области лингвистики. Рассматривая различные определения этого типа дискурса, в статье уделено особое внимание теориям Джона Дрижека и Питера Мюльхойслера.
Ключевые слова: экологический дискурс, сурвивализм, рационализм, прагматизм.
V.V. Korolchuk. Environmental discourse and research perspectives. The article aims at pointing out views on environmental discourse. The primary reason for this derives from the fact that environmental issues in general and environmental degradation in particular, being on top of global agenda nowadays, are vital topics recently adopted into the gamut of linguistic concerns. Viewing different definitions of this type of discourse, the paper gives special attention to the theories of John Dryzek and Peter Mühlhäusler.
Key words: environmental discourse, survivalism, rationalism, pragmatism.
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Though people lack not wealth, they cannot afford to breathe clean air. Rain and streams cleanse not, but remain inert and powerless liquids. Human beings and countless beings that inhabit water and land reel under the yoke of physical pain caused by malevolent diseases. Their minds are dulled with sloth, stupor, and ignorance. The joys of the body and spirit are far, far away. We needlessly pollute the fair bosom of our mother earth; rip out her trees to feed our shortsighted greed, turning our fertile earth into sterile desert. As a noble being recognizes the kindness of a sentient mother and makes recompense for it, so the earth, the universal mother, which nurtures all equally, should be regarded with affection and care.
To address adequately the problems that face environmental sustainability in the 21st century, it is necessary to study a wide variety of concepts, analyze different ways the humanity discusses and debates environmental issues in an attempt to understand better how environmental changes occur. To analyze such views, it is necessary to draw upon the concept of the environmental discourse, a way of understanding the world.
There is no single term (“environmental” or “ecological discourse”) to enter for the subject search. Ultimately, of course, the usage dictates which term or whether any term is adopted. Many critics distinguish between eco- and enviro- claiming their differernce lies in their connotation. Hence, enviro- is antropocentric and dualistic, implying that we humans are at the centre, surrounded by everything that is not us, the environment. Eco-, in contrast, implies interdependent communities, integrated systems, and strong connections among constituent parts.
Regardless of what name it goes by, most of the discourse on environmental and ecological issues share a common motivation: the troubling awareness that we have reached the age of environmental limits, a time when the consequences of human actions are damaging the planet’s basic life support systems. The time when it becomes clear that either we change our ways or we face global catastrophe, destroying much beauty and exterminating countless fellow species in our race to apocalypse.
In this article we adopt the term “environmental discourse” basing our assumptions on the fact that it is the antropocentric approach the humanity has taken as the main policy in handling environmental matters and it is still far from reaching the point of “ecological” future.
Many social scientists and linguists [Fill A., Dryzek, J., Harré R., Jung M., Mühlhäusler P.] have used the tools of discourse analysis to study specific environmental problems. Common to these analyses is the finding that the way we discuss the environment has profound effects on the way we manage the environment. Additionally, focusing on the framing of our environmental discourses, we can analyze critically the fundamental beliefs that inform our attitudes towards the natural world.
M. Jung, for example, states that by environmental discourse not all linguistic references to natural environment in public, private or scientific communication will be meant, but the entirety of texts (seen as separable and structured sequences of written or spoken utterances), in which the relation between humans and natural environment is defined publicly, i.e. in the media, or in which the effects of human activity on the environment and its repercussions on humans are discussed. He goes further to claim that environmental discourse, more than other discourses, is determined by the scientific and technical vocabulary of public dispute. “It can even be claimed that environmental discourse in the modern sense was constituted at the end of the 1960s by the scientification of public dispute in Western industrial nations: in Germany this occurred around 1969/70, in the USA, Great Britain and elsewhere even earlier”. M. Jung sees the process of terminologization as a fundamental social change : “the historical retrospective shows that before this, environmental actions were chiefly attributed to ‘insufficient education”. Environmentalists’ knowledge of facts and terminologies was growing rapidly ever since.
In R. Harris opinion, environmental discourse is “the construction of hybrid discourse which tries to combine two different sets of linguistic assumptions”. He calls one set a scientific discourse and the other one a moral discourse. And it is metaphor that “attempts to bridge the gap” between these two types of a discourse.
An extensive analysis of discourse about the environment has undoubtedly been undertaken by P. Mühlhäusler. He explores the nature of environmental discourse against the criterion of referential adequacy which refers to the capacity of the language to have sufficient lexical resources to discuss a given topic in sufficient detail. He reaches three conclusions.
First, he concludes that environmental discourse is semantically vague. For example, “acid rain” should more correctly be talked about as “acid deposition”.
Second, P. Mühlhäusler concludes that environmental discourse is semantically undifferentiated; that is, one term covers a number of different phenomena. He gives the example of “growing” which can be used to refer to natural growth, dangerous growth, man-made growth, and arithmetic growth.
Third, Mühlhäusler concludes that environmental discourse has misleading encoding. Thus, for example, the term “labour-saving devices” usually means that someone has to labour to make them; and “fertilizers” often render the soil infertile.
On language planning grounds, Peter Mühlhäusler concludes that the lexicon for discussing environmental matters is impoverished and inadequate. We may talk about environmental matters but we do not do so well; our talk is vague, undifferentiated, limited, and not conducive to our likely “environmental needs”.
John Dryzek has also done important work in the analysis of environmental discourse. He defines a discourse as “a shared way of apprehending the world”. Embedded in language, it enables those who subscribe to it to interpret bits of information and put them together into coherent stories or accounts.
He suggests that discourses influence:
- basic entities whose existence is recognized or constructed;
- assumptions about natural relationships;
- agents and their motives;
- key metaphors and other rhetorical devices.
Thus, J. Dryzek describes environmental discourse analysis as examining the “assumptions, judgments, and contentions that provide the basic terms for analysis, debates, agreements, and disagreements”[Dryzek 1997: 16 -18]. By analyzing such “basic terms”, it is possible to highlight the foundations and sources of various environmental conflicts, moving past the common roadblocks in an argument.
In his writing, J. Dryzek develops a four-part discourse analytic scheme that typologizes the content of environmental discourses.
The first element of a discourse is the entities whose existence is recognized or constructed. Human beings, institutions, theories, religions, and movements are examples of the entities that might be constructed by a discourse.
The second element of a discourse is its assumptions about natural relationships. This element analyzes what sorts of relationships a discourse portrays as natural or normal. Some discourses see the fundamental relationship between humans as one of competition while others emphasize cooperation. The necessity of hierarchy, the impossibility of egalitarianism, and the pervasiveness of rationality are just some examples of the natural relationships that have been constructed by various discourses.
The third element of a discourse is its agents and their motives. In a sense, this element is similar to the first, except that these entities are also constructed with specific actions and motives. The same actor might be portrayed in many different ways by different discourses.
The final element of a discourse is the key metaphors and rhetorical devices it employs. Like words, metaphors serve as easily identifiable characteristics of a discourse. They are deployed as persuasive devices to reframe a question, emphasize a particular point, or connect an issue to preexisting beliefs and emotions. Other rhetorical devices are available for this purpose, such as appealing to traditions, extending the frame of consideration, or distorting the assumed reality towards a specific position. Of these devices, metaphor is the most common, and therefore is emphasized throughout his theory.
Dryzek goes on to apply this four-part structure to identify nine discourses that have been active since 1960 and currently function in our society. Although modern environmental debates can be typologized in many different ways, the set of discourses that Dryzek presents is quite effective at covering the broad range of environmental reporting.
Survivalism. This discourse became dominant near the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Emphasizing global limits to consumption and population, survivalism demanded that strong measures be passed to avert a global environmental catastrophe. Metaphors abound in survivalism, seeing earth as a spaceship, and images of doom and redemption.
Promethean. Developed as a response to survivalism, the Promethean discourse denies that global limits exist. The Promethean discourse sees all environmental problems as mere chimeras intended to dampen human optimism. The most common metaphors in the Promethean discourse include mechanistic representations of the environment, such as where nature is seen as a machine that can be tinkered with and improved.
Administrative rationalism. As the governmental response to the environmental movement became more significant, the administrative rationalist discourse developed, emphasizing the role of the expert and the manager in solving environmental problems. Administrative rationalism includes metaphors that mix environmental concern with a sense of reassurance that problems will be solved by the competent state.
Democratic pragmatism. This discourse also accepts the status quo of the preeminence of humans, but it stresses an interactive political model where competition and cooperation lead to effective environmental solutions. Instead of experts and managers, the citizen is the most important agent involved. Metaphors in democratic pragmatism tend to describe public policy as the result of societal “forces,” pulling the political process in different directions.
Economic rationalism. Although somewhat similar to the Promethean discourse, economic rationalism developed in response to administrative rationalism rather than survivalism. This discourse demands the use of economic instruments to solve environmental problems rather than governmental regulation or citizen involvement. Economic rationalism uses mechanistic metaphors much like the Prometheans, but it also uses metaphors intended to stigmatize administrative regulation.
Sustainable development. International environmental debates have been the chief medium for this discourse, though it has been used at almost every level of debate. Metaphors of organic growth and progress are central to this discourse, although it also contains metaphors of reassurance that dampen the call for radical restructuring of the status quo.
Ecological modernization. This discourse is similar to sustainable development, but it highlights technological solutions along with mechanist conceptions of environmental problems. In line with other mechanist discourses, ecological modernization uses metaphors of the efficient system, such as the tidy household or nature as a waste treatment plant.
Green romanticism. In many ways, this discourse draws from the tradition of survivalism, but it rejects the survivalist assumptions of mechanism and is much more optimistic. It construes global limits and environmental problems as the expected results of humankind’s violation of our connection to nature; however, we can correct this transgression through the redefinition of our identities and by understanding our interconnectedness with the natural world. Biological and organic metaphors are common to this discourse, stressing the importance of passion in environmental solutions.
Green rationalism. This discourse accepts, but de-emphasizes the idealistic beliefs in green romanticism, such as the redefinition of the self, in favor of more concrete solutions. Green rationalism conceives of nature as a complex system that interacts with social, economic, and political structures. Green rationalism also uses biological and organic metaphors, though they tend to appeal to reason and the potential rationality of social structures and institutions rather than passion and intuition.
J. Dryzek himself is an advocate of administrative rationalism, thus, supporting the view that experts within the state are best placed to handle environmental risks because they have the relevant technical knowledge, the necessary authority, and will act in the public interest. Nowadays we even speak about ecological modernization as a discourse which “argues that although they have gone astray, the state, industry, and the market can all be made environmentally friendly if they are redesigned”.
The most common problem addressed at this level is that human beings have fundamentally different beliefs on the relationship that humans ought to have with the environment. For example, while some people believe in domination of man over the nature, the latter being the source to be used by man for his self-interest and profit, others see our relation to mother nature in a different light – the natural world is what gives us life, what makes our life possible, and what sustains us. Hence, our relationship with the nature is to involve attachment, gratitude, responsibility, respect, interdependence, and love. They claim this unification with “the web of life” can help us in understanding the nature through its lessons on the basic principles of ecology and interdependence. Further on, it can help us in becoming “ecologically literate” on our way to the creation of “strong communities”.
All the above mentioned facts serve as an example of the complexity in analyzing environmental discourse. One would need to understand many more factors setting up the analysis such as economic mechanisms in environmental planning, the philosophical justification of humans as superior to nature, and the historical role of economic development on environmental degradation.
However, it is clear that in order to help achieve the shift in attitudes and behaviour it is essential for the society to become sustainable. With this purpose, people who seek to promote this objective need to take a strong stand on language. We must be careful about the language we use and we should encourage others to do the same. The future can be won or lost in the language adopted today. Therefore, we are to issue a call for a more clear and disciplined analysis of ecological discourses, especially the ones that have potential consequences for the future of ecosystems.