The application of critical discourse analysis in environmental dispute resolution

Ethics, Place and Environment 9 (1):79 – 100 (2006)
The characteristics of environmental disputes are such that dispute resolution approaches are not always successful. This was highlighted in recent attempts to resolve disputes related to the introduction of the Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 in New South Wales (NSW). Critical discourse analysis of stakeholder narratives is a technique that could be used for conflict scoping and assessment, allowing mediators or policy makers to better prepare themselves for dispute resolution processes. Media releases of the Nature Conservation Council and the NSW Farmers' Association on native vegetation issues were analysed using this technique. The results show how insights into the underlying assumptions, positions, interests, value judgements and strategies of stakeholders can be obtained. This information can be used to aid the dispute resolution process by identifying misunderstandings and misconceptions, enhancing mutual understanding, appropriate integration of science and technical information and tracking changes in the dispute.
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