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Research projects

Environmental Representation

About this project

Project information

Project status



Ylva Uggla

Research subject

Previous studies in environmental politics, administration, and planning have shown how environmental issues challenge the nation state and the institutions of representative democracy. Environmental problems tend to be cross-boundary in both a temporal (concern future generations) and spatial dimension (concern citizens in other countries). However, the institutions of representative democracy face difficulties in including interests from other countries, future generations, and other species. The fact that these interests – whose life conditions can be determined in decision-making processes where they are not represented – need to be represented by new forms, principles, and actors have been a topic of scholarly attention. But how is this taking place? Who are the individuals that are provided the mandate to actually represent the environment and which are the methods and strategies they are using? The project focuses on individuals that in different ways represent the environment within the state, business sector, civil society, media, etc, including the challenges and opportunities they face. One part of the project analyses the practices and tools that are applied to represent the environment and environmental problems, including pictures, films, diagrams and symbols. 

Core questions are: i) on which grounds do the representatives make claims to speak for the environment; ii) what is the role of knowledge and values in their practices; iii), how do they manage complexity, knowledge uncertainty, ambivalence and competing values; iv) how is representation shaped by different organizational contexts and how do the representatives in turn shape the organization (organizational learning); and v) how are environmental problems communicated and concretized. 

The project uses a comparative and process oriented design and build on studies of environmental representative practices within, e.g., civil society organizations, state authorities and for-profit companies, as well as on different kinds of environmental communication, e.g. policy document, news reporting, and environmental campaigns.

The project has resulted in the following publications:

Boström, Magnus & Ylva Uggla (2016) A sociology of environmental representation. Environmental Sociology, 2(4), 355-364.
Open access

Boström, Magnus; Uggla, Ylva & Hansson, Viktor (2018) Environmental representatives: whom, what, and how are they representing? Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. Vol 20(1): 114-127.

Olausson, U. & Uggla, Y. (2019). Celebrities celebrifying nature: the discursive construction of the human-nature relationship in the ‘Nature Is Speaking’ campaign. Celebrity Studies. Read more about the publication here

Uggla, Ylva & Boström, Magnus (2018). Ambivalence in environmental representation: A theoretical contribution. Sociologisk forskning, 55 (4), 447-465. Open access   

Uggla, Y. (2018). Framing and visualising biodiversity in EU policy. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 15 (1), 103-122.

Uggla, Y. & Uggla, F. (2016). CHANGE: The European Commission's Climat Campaign as a Technique of Government. I: H. Bulkeley, M. Paterson och J. Stripple, Towards a cultural politics of climate change: devices, desires, and dissent (ss. 24-36). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Research funding bodies

  • Örebro University