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Environmentally sustainable meat consumption: an analysis of the Norwegian public debate

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Hårvik Austgulen, Marthe (main author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
Norway: Springer
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
communication analysis, consumption, environmental communication, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), mass communication, meat, newspapers, sustainability, government policy, food production, policy making, climate change, Norway (Europe), media analysis, environmental issues, debate, self-regulation, communication media, consumer policy, food crisis
22 pages., Via online journal, Private consumption is increasingly being blamed for resource depletion and environmental degradation, and the discourse of ascribing environmental responsibility to the individual consumer has become a part of mainstream policy-making. Measures aimed at promoting consumers' voluntary engagement through sustainable consumption now constitute an important part of public sustainability strategies. Nevertheless, the actual progress made in changing people's consumption patterns in a more sustainable direction has been modest. Based on a quantitative and a qualitative content analysis of articles on environmentally sustainable consumption of meat published in five national and regional newspapers in Norway between 2000 and 2010, it is argued in this article that an important reason for the lack of both political and consumer engagement in the issue can be attributed to a discursive confusion that arises from a simultaneous existence of mainly two clashing discourses on what is actually environmentally sustainable consumption of meat. One that is focusing on the environmentally malign aspects of consumption and production of (especially) red meat, and another that is focusing on the environmentally benign aspects of production and consumption of red meat. The findings imply that the lack of consensus on the character of the problem constitutes a major barrier for the opportunity to change people's consumption patterns in a more environmentally sustainable direction through the use of voluntary measures.