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Moraitopoulos Arljung, Miron, 2022. Filling in the Blanks : framing and interpreting the environment in Swedish development cooperation. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



This thesis explores how the understanding of such an ambiguous concept as “the environment” can be communicated in Swedish development cooperation by the Governments and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in a way that reconciles the need to deliver on policy goals while still allowing for an interpretative and participatory project design. The central research problem studied was thus how to communicate environmental understandings without explicitly doing so.

The thesis sought to address this issue by exploring how the environment is framed in Swedish development policy and how that framing is then interpreted and negotiated when development policy is implemented by actors lower down in the development hierarchy. Research questions sought to discover how the environment was understood by each actor, how such understanding was manifested through interaction with development partners, and how the Government’s original environmental framing compared to the other actors.

Framing was chosen as a conceptual tool to make such an environmental understanding clear by focusing on what aspects of reality were made visible obscured and what was considered problems and solutions. Document analysis and interviews provided the empirical material, and the frames found were compared to four different environmental narratives to better situated them into a conceptually cohesive whole.

While the Government’s framing focused on new more environmentally friendly technology, SIDA amended this by highlighting the role of structures and power relations and emphasis the need for more equal access to land and decision-making fora; the NGO was shown to have a strong farming focus and framed both environmental problems and solutions through individual actions to make livelihoods more resilient. Environmentalism for Profit was a narrative which all of these actors seemed to adhere to in different degrees.

The thesis concludes that the Government and the other actors can communicate the obscure and more explanatory part of their frames through a “communicative shadow” which is the indication of arguments or viewpoints that are not expressed but whose existence, can still be recognised by other parties in the exchange. This allows them to make their framing clear enough to follow while simultaneously leave them without the need to make normative and ideological stances motivating the frames. It thus becomes a method for filling in the blanks.

Main title:Filling in the Blanks
Subtitle:framing and interpreting the environment in Swedish development cooperation
Authors:Moraitopoulos Arljung, Miron
Supervisor:Westin, Martin
Examiner:Nordström Källström, Helena
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2022
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:environment, communication, development, cooperation, framing, natural resources
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Land economics and policies
Nature conservation and land resources
Deposited On:22 Jun 2022 10:54
Metadata Last Modified:23 Jun 2022 01:03

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