Från ”tyst vår” till ”hållbar utveckling” : En kritisk diskursanalys av miljöfrågans utveckling 1962–1987

Sammanfattning: This dissertation studies the development of the environmental issue from a discursive perspective. Through an analysis of views on nature and the environment in several NGOs and main political organs, the dissertation tries to explain how a certain view became hegemonic. The analysis pertains to the period between the publication of Silent Spring in 1962 and the introduction of the concept sustainable development by the UN in 1987. From a realistic starting point and with critical discourse analysis (CDA) as its method, the dissertation aims to identify causal powers and mechanisms that have generated and institutionalized the environmental discourse. An analytical model is developed and applied on three levels; a sociolinguistic, institutional, and macrosocial level; which also reflect the methodological progression of the study from description to explanation.The result shows that the discursive practice was hegemonized by a Western view promoting economic growth. This discourse gradually gained ground at the expense of an anti-systemic discourse which posited structural societal changes as the answer to environmental problems. Mechanisms such as the exclusion of some views and actors from common discursive practices were crucial for the process of homogenizing the discourse and developing consensus. Through incorporating that part of the environmental movement which did not fight the dominant economic and political system, the UN turned it into support for its own project, which is part of the process of hegemony. At the same time the environmental objectives of the hegemonic discourse were established in the institutional spheres.The institutionalization of the environmental issue changed the focus from social critique to a question of development and technology, something which helped displace the original critical and partially anti-systemic character of environmental discourse. Through turning the critical and negative account of the situation into a more harmonious and hopeful vision, for instance in terms of sustainable development, a foundation was laid for the later development of ecological modernization. When the hegemonic discourse invested the concept of sustainable development with emphases on progress and economic growth, it encapsulated the environmental issue within the framework of the prevailing social system.

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