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Kreber, Daniela, 2021. A revised narrative of the Baltic Sea in Sweden : a phenomenological reflection on the multifaceted human-sea interrelations and communication. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Far from everyday reality and vast in size, seas and oceans are often subject to overarching narratives obscuring their reality. Natural sciences, technology, and the economic perspective exercise a dominant influence on the problem formulations that both shape our understandings of marine environments and frame marine decision-making processes. Although deficiencies of those perspectives have been criticized and the role of humanities and social science is growing, addressing human dimensions as complex and multifaceted is still poor and not seriously considered in marine social science research and management processes. Moreover, recognition of terrestrial bias across marine-related research fields reminds us of the uniqueness of marine environments and the need for distinctive approaches that define their reality.

This study argues that all those problems can be addressed from the perspective of communication. Exploring how people communicate about marine environments can help detect a variety of overarching narratives formed in the society, but also create new ones. Moreover, it can help to understand the complex and manifold human dimensions and address the recognized terrestrial bias. However, by now, marine communication-related research has been subject to a nascent field - marine conservation communication, whose instrumental approach is insufficient to address the above problems. The field of environmental communication could offer a variety of research approaches, but its focus was predominately on climate change and terrestrial environmental problems.

This study addresses such environmental communication research gap and the above-mentioned deficiencies. It brings narratives of seven people connected to the Baltic Sea in Sweden through various engaging activities. Through phenomenological analysis of narratives, the study reveals the revised narrative of the Baltic Sea. The revised narrative represents the Baltic Sea as humanized, the ever-flowing system with turbulent materiality and fluidly known by people. It recognizes both actors of the human-sea interrelationships, gives a voice to the Baltic Sea, and represents it as less marginalized by land-based perspectives.

Reflecting on communication challenges and opportunities, the revised narrative suggests how communicating the Baltic Sea as intertwined with the land and human context can be important in shaping more meaningful and significant understandings of the sea. However, it also shows a challenge to discern whether the representations used in communication are reflections of the lived-through experiences or external conceptualizations. Significant communication opportunity arises from the narrative when the Baltic Sea is positioned as an active communication participant, through a more-than-human perspective. In that way, representations are less oppressive and more significant. Therefore, this study suggests a more careful evaluation of environmental communication as a constitutive tool, especially in connection to marine environments. There should be attentiveness towards narratives that treat the Baltic Sea as an asocial and atemporal flat background of the Swedish society, known through static and fixed descriptions.

The revised narrative contributes to the development of the Baltic Sea literacy, but also offers methodological and theoretical suggestions in research for re-centering marine environments and a better understanding of multifaceted human-sea relations through communication. The study emphasizes the importance to recognize marine environments as unique, experienced differently from land. Thus, in a need for distinctive approaches within research and practice.

Main title:A revised narrative of the Baltic Sea in Sweden
Subtitle:a phenomenological reflection on the multifaceted human-sea interrelations and communication
Authors:Kreber, Daniela
Supervisor:Hallgren, Lars
Examiner:Fischer, Anke
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2021
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:The Baltic Sea, marine environment, narratives, phenomenology, human-sea relations, terrestrial bias, more-than-human perspective, ocean literacy, environmental communication
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Nature conservation and land resources
Deposited On:18 Jun 2021 11:15
Metadata Last Modified:19 Jun 2021 01:04

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