The values of trees and woodland: a discourse-based cross-disciplinary perspective on integrating ‘revealed’ evaluations of nature into environmental agendas

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Abstract

Discourse analysis has been widely applied to the study of environmental communication, highlighting how language is used to reflect and affect our attitudes towards the natural world. The potential of discourse analysis to ‘reveal’ the values that people attribute to nature has recently been recognized in the context of environmental debates. This paper takes a new cross-disciplinary approach to the analysis of evaluation, combining a discourse approach (specifically Appraisal analysis) and insights from environmental philosophy and environmental policy to address the following main questions: (1) Which values of nature may be embedded in discourse about nature? (2) To what extent are these values represented in people’s narratives about trees and woodland in the U.K.? (3) What are the implications of the findings for the critical analysis of evaluative discourse? (4) What are the implications of the findings for environmental organizations? The analysis is applied to a sample of 514 woodland narratives collected by the U.K. charitable environmental organization Woodland Trust in 2016. The study highlights new critical perspectives that may be gained from the analysis of evaluative discourse and the importance of considering and fostering people’s affective relationship with the natural world in building a strong basis for environmental action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-480
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Volume18
Issue number4
Early online date17 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Discourse
  • evaluation
  • appraisal
  • values of nature
  • environmental philosophy
  • environmental policy
  • woodland
  • trees
  • stories
  • environmental organizations.

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