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Browsing by Subject "narrative"

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  • Haatainen, Emilia (2022)
    Sustainable consumption has become a widely debated topic in academic discussions, politics, the media, and consumer culture. The objective of this thesis was to identify the stories that are told about overconsumption and how responsibilities for the issue are distributed to different actors in these stories. Stories, in which events logically unfold and actors are positioned into different roles have a key role in the articulation of understandings of phenomena. 13 online news articles and two editorials published in three Finnish news media and the related news discussion forums were chosen as an empirical example of public discussion that shapes and reflects common perceptions on the issue. The news articles and editorials include references to the Earth Overshoot Day, limiting the context of the thesis to overconsumption that is defined based on the limits of the planet’s biocapacity. With the help of a qualitative narrative analysis, four storylines were constructed. These storylines are overconsumption by overpopulation, greed and impossible endless growth; one world, shared challenge, and technology as the problem and the solution. The most frequently mentioned actors across the storylines are citizens, developing and wealthy nations, decision-makers and politicians, businesses, and wealthy elite. Besides reflecting both academic discussions and previous literature on narratives about sustainable consumption, the presence of population dynamics and the conflict between socio-economic development and environmental well-being was notable in the analyzed discussions. The incomplete narrative structures, missing roles, and diverse elements included in the storylines reflect the complexity of the issue and the struggles related to articulating a coherent story with a sufficient solution and actors capable of solving the issue. To clarify the discussion on the topic, it is suggested that the distribution of the responsibilities and opportunities to improve the situation amongst actors should be addressed in the communication on sustainable consumption and the Earth Overshoot Day.