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Environmental Conflict and the Media


Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins

Has the hype associated with the «revolutionary» potential of the World Wide Web and digital media for environmental activism been muted by the past two decades of lived experience? What are the empirical realities of the prevailing media landscape?
Using a range of related disciplinary perspectives, the contributors to this book analyze and explain the complicated relationship between environmental conflict and the media. They shine light on why media are central to historical and contemporary conceptions of power and politics in the context of local, national and global issues and outline the emerging mixture of innovation and reliance on established strategies in environmental campaigns.
With cases drawn from different sections of the globe – Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, Latin America, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, Africa – the book demonstrates how conflicts emanate from and flow across multiple sites, regions and media platforms and examines the role of the media in helping to structure collective discussion, debate and decision-making.
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1 Environmental Conflict in a Global, Media Age: Beyond Dualisms: Simon Cottle


Environmental conflicts today increasingly need to be conceptualized and theorized in relation to endemic forces of change and global crises. This includes the ecological catastrophes and calamities generated by late modernity and globalized (dis)order. Conflicts centred on environment and ecology, even when taking place in local or national contexts, are often best conceived in terms of “world society” and what Ulrich Beck discerns as its “interdependency crises” (Beck, 2009). They are also invariably waged in and through available media and communications (Beck, 2009; Cottle, 2009a, 2011c). It is by these means that images and ideas circulate around the globe; identities and solidarities become invoked across space and place; and the legitimacy of environmental issues and political aims are variously elaborated and contested. It is also by such means that environmental issues can also be “scaled-up” or “scaled-down” from the local to the global (Cottle and Lester, 2011; Pickerill et al., 2011).

The ecology of media and communications today is also fast transforming (and globalizing) with the rise of new media—the Internet, mobile telephony and social media—now all communicating alongside and, increasingly, infused with mainstream media. The “politics of representation”, long associated with the critique of mainstream media systems, their corporate structuration, market determinations and democratic deficits, is now having to recognize the emergence of a new politics, ← 19 | 20 → a “politics of connectivity” and one often conceived in more celebratory terms. This centers on new media and their enabling connectivity within everyday life and civil...

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