Dissertation Abstracts

Constructions of the Environment in Nepal: Environmental Discourses on Air and on the Ground

Author: Shrestha, Sangita , sangita@environcomms.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Prof. Colin. B. Grant, Dr. Kate Burningham
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Nepal, Environment , Local Construction , Media Construction
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Communication, Knowledge and Culture


While analyses of media constructions of the environment are proliferating, there has been very limited research conducted on environmental media communication in Nepal. This research aims to explore mass mediated and local constructions of the environment in Nepal so as to compare constructions of the environment both in the media and in local contexts.

Media analysis focused on episodes of the Batabaran Dabali programme in Radio Sagarmatha (broadcast from May 2009 – April 2010), while local constructions were accessed via eight focus group discussions held with 80 participants in Nepal. Analysis employed both content and discourse analytic approaches, although precedence was given to the discourse analysis as the study is mainly focused on exploring contested constructions of the environment. The content analysis of Batabaran Dabali identified climate change as the most newsworthy story. The analysis indicated that the programme supported many news values despite being a predominantly non-news programme. Discourse analysis revealed that the construction of the environment is contested among members of a variety of public spheres which are not unified. In the media, the environment was characterised as complex, linked to constitutional, political, legal, economic and cultural systems. In local contexts, the environment was also framed in multiple ways: as something concrete which can be experienced in daily lives, and also as complex and relating to environmental science.

The study clearly showed that elite experts used the media as a discursive terrain while marginalising the contribution of other publics to the construction of environmental agendas in Nepal. Thus, the study not only raises a concern regarding the elitist nature of environmental media discourses but also questions the possibility of the enhancement of environmental communication in Nepal if the same top down approach of communication continues.

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