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Cederlöf, Lina, 2015. Constructive communication in contexts of complexity : a case study of the wolf conflict in Sweden. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Many societal issues of today are characterized by complexity and conflicts, which often arise as a
consequence of multiple actors with divergent perspectives. The on-going wolf conflict in Sweden is
one example of an issue commonly perceived as complex and with increasing polarization. The
conflict is reflected in public communication about the issue where epithets such as ‘wolf huggers’
and ‘wolf haters’ are pitted against each other. By using the wolf conflict as a case, this study aims to
explore approaches and experiences related to communication in wicked issues in order to reveal
underlying factors, which may contribute to or inhibit constructive communication. The case study is
informed by a theoretical framework, which draw from a broad understanding of the characteristics of
wicked issues and further, through Habermas critical theory, positions such issues in relation to
dilemmas of modern society. Jordan’s awareness theory gives an operationalized view from
organizational theory. A phenomenological approach is applied and the empirical material was
collected through 11 in-depth semi-structured interviews with respondents from five different NGOs
active within the domain of the issue. Empirical findings from the study are presented in five themes:
(1) Conceptualizations of complexity, (2) Arenas for communication, (3) Conceptualizing goals for
communication, (4) Perceptions of science and facts in communication, and (5) Multiple roles.
Underlying factors inhibiting constructive communication, appeared to pertain to (a) overreliance on
scientific authority, (b) ‘othering’ of opponents, (c) communication as one way transmission of
information with educative or strategic goals, (d) dramaturgy of media and (e) competitiveness of
debate. The study opens up for discussion and further inquiry on how NGOs, management processes
and arenas for communication can become better in supporting development of complexity awareness
and constructive communication praxis.

Main title:Constructive communication in contexts of complexity
Subtitle:a case study of the wolf conflict in Sweden
Authors:Cederlöf, Lina
Supervisor:von Essen, Erica
Examiner:Hallgren, Lars
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2015
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:communication, environmental communication, complexity, wicked issues, communicative action, awareness, perspectives, wolf, roles, rationality, modernity
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural research
Animal ecology
Social sciences, humanities and education
Deposited On:26 Oct 2015 15:21
Metadata Last Modified:26 Oct 2015 15:21

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