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Doctoral thesis, 2018

Deliberations on nature

Caselunghe, Elvira


This thesis investigates the deliberative potential in two communicative initiatives resulting from the 2001 government policy in Swedish nature conservation, A coherent nature conservation policy. The two initiatives, which constitute the empirical material in the thesis are, (1) a national competence development programme that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency ran 2008-2011, Dialogue for nature conservation, and (2) the nature interpretation at naturum, visitor centres at national parks and nature reserves. Data was generated through qualitative interviews with nature conservation administrators at county administrative boards; participant observation at dialogue courses and workshops with researchers and nature interpreters; video analysis of recorded nature interpretation sessions at naturums; documentation from naturum exhibitions; and document and literature studies. The thesis draws from critical theory and clarifies rationales behind communicative practices in nature conservation. The analysis shows that the communicative initiatives are dominated by the instrumental state rationality, circumscribing space for communicative rationality. The 2001 nature conservation policy emphasised communication, but the communicative initiatives did not sufficiently integrate democratic aspects. By identifying the role of meaning-making as a central phenomenon in a communicative process, the thesis indicates how to include democratic dimensions in communicative work. The theoretical contribution of the thesis draws from an analysis of modernity, nature alienation and reconciliation. In the thesis, naturum is identified as a communicative forum with an underdeveloped potential for reconciliatory activities, more precisely deliberations on nature in nature. The thesis contributes to the field of environmental communication through highlighting how communicative practices of nature conservation depend on both communication and materiality.


communication, democracy, dialogue, deliberative democracy, deliberative system, nature conservation, nature interpretation, naturum, reconciliation, Sweden, kommunikation, demokrati, dialog, deliberativ demokrati, deliberativt system, naturvård, naturvägledning, naturrelation

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2018, number: 2018:68
ISBN: 978-91-7760-276-7, eISBN: 978-91-7760-277-4
Publisher: Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Communication Studies
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

URI (permanent link to this page)