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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 522965
Title Framing nature : searching for (implicit) religious elements in the communication about nature
Author(s) Jansen, Peter
Source University. Promotor(en): Henk Jochemsen, co-promotor(en): Jozef Keulartz; J. van der Stoep. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463431323 - 200
Department(s) Philosophy
WASS
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2017
Keyword(s) nature - policy - netherlands - communication - religion - case studies - frames - perception - public authorities - landscape experience - identity - natuur - beleid - nederland - communicatie - religie - gevalsanalyse - geraamten - perceptie - overheid - landschapsbeleving - identiteit
Categories Philosophy (General) / Nature Conservation Policy
Abstract

This PhD thesis is about communication concerning nature in the Netherlands. The purpose of this exploratory study is to take both a theoretical and an empirical look at whether (implicit) religious elements play a role in this communication about nature in the Netherlands.

In this PhD thesis it is argued that the role of communication practitioners is to signal, articulate, and interpret normative elements in the discourse. In other words, to make (non-) congruent frames explicit and clarifying the associated world views in the discourse, including that of the government itself. The government has to be impartial as possible in its communications, but the communications about nature shows that there are questions to be asked about this neutrality. Although not explicit, but through the communications of NGOs, who operate as delegated executors of the Dutch nature policy in the context of this PhD thesis, certain images, i.e., frames regarding nature are communicated. However, the question is raised to what extent the government, based on its alleged neutrality, should condition the communication of NGOs. Here, tension can be observed. If nature conservation NGOs (explicitly) communicate a specific vision about nature, using ‘religious subtexts’, the government appears to support these ‘subtexts’. For nature conservation NGOs, it is appropriate to put forth a certain opinion to raise support for their actions among the public. However, in this PhD thesis it is argued that it is not the responsibility of the government to promote a specific religiously phrased view of nature and nature policy. Hence, this PhD thesis reveals a necessity for reflection on the relationship between government and NGOs regarding their communication, i.e., awareness of distinction and a need for mutual adjustment in the case of close cooperation.

The results of this PhD thesis are placed in a broader cultural context with respect to nature development. A paradox is highlighted: creating nature ‘according to our view of nature’ and, simultaneously, wanting to experience wilderness-nature, preferably without too much human influence. This paradox appears to form a cultural basis for many new nature development projects. In other words, nature development is no longer just driven by ecological interests. In today’s ‘wilderness desire’, a certain form of anthropocentric thinking also manifests, because it focuses on the human experience of nature. In addition, because (new) nature projects can be places to have meaningful experiences, in this PhD thesis it is concluded that (new) nature projects, such as Tiengemeten, not only have ecological value, but societal value as well. It is also argued that in a secular society, we should not lose sight of the mediating role of creating and maintaining nature parks. Designing or maintaining natural areas in a certain way can create conditions for certain meaningful experiences. With our designing vision and communication, we can reap ‘benefits’ from nature. With this conclusion, this PhD thesis shines a different light on the concept of nature development and, indirectly, on the Dutch nature policy.

Finally, this PhD thesis shows that religious elements play a role in the communication about nature. These are linked to meaningful experiences that people can have in nature. A religious depth dimension can be discovered in meaningful experiences. This religious depth dimension is the reason that there are ‘religious subtexts’ in the communication about nature. However, the word ‘subtext’ is crucial. The communication about nature is ‘religionised’ to some extent, but there is no mentioning of a personal God or other reference to a supernatural reality. This PhD thesis also shows that the religious depth dimension does not explicitly come to the fore in what visitors are saying. This means that this PhD thesis, in addition to questioning the appropriateness of ‘religious subtexts’ in the communication about nature, also doubts whether those ‘subtexts’ are convincing from visitors’ perspective.

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