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Title: Nature talk in an Appalachian newspaper: What environmental discourse analysis reveals about efforts to address exurbanization and climate change

Author: Burke, Brian J.; Welch-Devine, Meredith; Gustafson, Seth.;

Date: 2015

Source: Human Organization

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: As the people of Southern Appalachia confront the challenges of climate change and exurban development, their foundational beliefs about the environment and human-environment relations will significantly shape the types of individual and collective action that they imagine and pursue. In this paper, we use critical discourse analysis of an influential small-town newspaper to understand how the environment is being represented publicly and consider how these representations might affect local environmental politics and efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change and exurban sprawl. We find that the environment
is generally represented as an amenity to be enjoyed rather than a subject of concern, that environmental degradation, when represented at all, is often discussed in vague or distancing terms, and that human agency is typically presented in individualizing, hyper-local terms rather than in collective, community- or national-scale ones. In conclusion, we suggest that these representational styles are likely very effective for inspiring interest in and connection to local landscapes, but they do not provide a strong basis for collective efforts to understand and address climate change and exurbanization.

Keywords: Environment, climate change, exurbanization, critical discourse analysis, journalism

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Burke, Brian J.; Welch-Devine, Meredith; Gustafson, Seth. 2015. Nature talk in an Appalachian newspaper: What environmental discourse analysis reveals about efforts to address exurbanization and climate change. Human Organization. 74(2): 185-196.


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