chapter  2
Communication and the construction of environmental issues
ByAnders Hansen
Pages 23

This chapter introduces the constructionist perspective on social problems as a framework for analysing and understanding the role of media and communication in relation to environmental issues. The 'power' of the media to influence public and political processes resides principally in signalling what society and the polity should be concerned about and in setting the framework for definition and discussion of such issues. The chapter highlights the centrality of claims, claims-makers and the claims-making process in analysis of the emergence, elaboration, and contestation of environmental issues. It discusses the construction of social problems as essentially a rhetorical achievement, and points to the analysis of rhetorical idioms, motifs, claims-making styles and settings or public arenas as core components. The chapter examines how/whether the constructionist perspective extends to the analysis of natural disasters/accidents. It also examines the idea of issue careers and the notion that social problems move through a series of stages in an 'issue-attention' cycle.