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Matters of Public Connection: The role of mediated and interpersonal communication in young people's environmental engagement
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

What lies at the heart of environmental identity is the recognition of our interconnection with other people, living and not yet born, as well as nonhumans. To develop this sense of belonging, one needs to sustain public connection—a basic orientation to the public world where matters of shared concern are addressed. This connection is best sustained through communication— interpersonal and through media. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the role that public connection, interpersonal and mediated, plays in young people’s everyday environmental engagement. This dissertation addresses the task by focusing on how this role varies among adolescents of different ages, genders, and existing environmental attitudes and how it changes over time. Drawing on Bruno Latour’s notion of “matters of concern” and Steven Vogel’s environmental philosophy, this inquiry challenges the common understanding of environmental awareness as an “extremely scientific view of the world,” expands the role of the media and interpersonal communication beyond the dissemination of scientific and ecological information and its effects on people, and taps into communication’s potential to sustain public connection. To provide a more integrated and dynamic perspective on adolescents’ communication flows, I employ longitudinal quantitative data and draw heavily on a toolbox of person-oriented methods. Methodologically, the main focus lies in identifying types of young people who function in a similar way and comparing how the relationship between public connection and environmental engagement unfolds for these different types of individuals. This dissertation consists of three empirical studies. The findings suggest that the more strongly connected to the public world young people are, the more engaged they are with environmental issues. Both interpersonal discussions and news media use assist in strengthening engaged adolescents’ belief that their contribution matters for tackling climate change. However, environmentally aware youth may project their own beliefs onto other people rather than being influenced by others’ beliefs. Disengaged youth do not sustain public connection, whether through conversation or through media. The role of mediated public connection varies among adolescents. Media may not be the most important channel for environmentally engaged youth to sustain their orientation to the public realm. This is indicated by the deep gender divide, in which girls are more concerned about the environment but consume significantly less news than boys. While news consumption does not seem to contribute to environmental disengagement, its relevance to pro-environmental practices weakens as teenagers mature. Early adolescence may be a critical window of opportunity to instill values of connectivity and form everyday habits that can help us achieve a more sustainable future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University , 2020. , p. 106
Series
Örebro Studies in Media and Communication, ISSN 1651-4785 ; 26
Keywords [en]
public connection, mediated public connection, environmental engagement, climate change, skepticism, gender divide, environmental communication, young people
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-78477ISBN: 978-91-7529-317-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-78477DiVA, id: diva2:1375854
Public defence
2020-01-31, Örebro universitet, Forumhuset, Hörsal F1, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-12-06 Created: 2019-12-06 Last updated: 2020-01-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Elusiveness of Communicative Influence: How the Key Socializers Influence Adolescents’ Environmental Engagement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Elusiveness of Communicative Influence: How the Key Socializers Influence Adolescents’ Environmental Engagement
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-78906 (URN)
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-08Bibliographically approved
2. Young, sceptical, and environmentally (dis)engaged: do news habits make a difference?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Young, sceptical, and environmentally (dis)engaged: do news habits make a difference?
2019 (English)In: JCOM - Journal of Science Communication, ISSN 1824-2049, E-ISSN 1824-2049, Vol. 18, no 4, article id A06Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research shows that news consumption plays a positive role in youths' environmental engagement. This article examines if this also holds true for sceptics by comparing Swedish climate change sceptics with non-sceptical youngsters in their early and late adolescence. We conceptualise news consumption as foci of public connection and orientation rather than a source of environmental information. The results show that in their early teens, heavy news consumers among both sceptics and non-sceptics are indeed more engaged with environmental issues than their less news-oriented peers. However, in late adolescence, sceptics among news consumers show very little environmental engagement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sissa Medialab srl, 2019
Keywords
Environmental communication, Science and media
National Category
Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-76450 (URN)10.22323/2.18040206 (DOI)000482887300006 ()
Available from: 2019-09-16 Created: 2019-09-16 Last updated: 2020-01-08Bibliographically approved
3. The gendered nature of adolescents’ environmental engagement: the role of interpersonal and mediated communication
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The gendered nature of adolescents’ environmental engagement: the role of interpersonal and mediated communication
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-78907 (URN)
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-08Bibliographically approved
4. Statistical Tales: Bringing in Reflexivity to Make Sense of Quantitative Data
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Statistical Tales: Bringing in Reflexivity to Make Sense of Quantitative Data
2017 (English)In: Present Scenarios of Media Production and Engagement / [ed] S. Tosoni, N. Carpentier, M. F. Murru, R. Kilborn, L. Kramp, R. Kunelius, A. McNicholas, T. Olsson, & P. Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, Bremen: edition lumière , 2017, p. 225-238Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Reflexivity has long become part of qualitative researcher’s arsenal for validity and credibility claims. However, very few quantitative researchers take the time to look back at their research process and ponder over the cost of deriving knowledge from statistical models – what has been omitted, polished, ignored or not taken into account. In this chapter I will try to bring reflexivity into my own quantitative research of young people’s environmental behavior by reflecting over what knowledge I have produced so far and why. Having worked with five waves of longitudinal data for two different age cohorts, I lived through several ‘existential’ crises failing to comprehend the stories that the data was telling me and failing to ‘impose’ my theoretical stories on it. It has challenged me to unravel conventions and granted assumptions of media studies as a discipline, reflect upon data’s temporal and spatial components, the subjective position of the researcher, the limits and the meaningfulness of generalizations, and the role of interpretations in statistical analysis. My personal research journey serves as a helpful background for a discussion of difficulties working with longitudinal quantitative data.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bremen: edition lumière, 2017
Series
Researching and Teaching Communication Book Series, ISSN 1736-3918, E-ISSN 1736-4752 ; 12
Keywords
Reflexivity, Quantitative Methods, Statistics, Positivism
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-78905 (URN)978-3-943245-72-1 (ISBN)
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-08Bibliographically approved

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Lakew, Yuliya

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