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Approachable environmental activism : a case study of Protect Our Winters Finland and collective action against climate change

Salonoja, Saara LU (2017) MKVM13 20171
Media and Communication Studies
Abstract
Climate change has become an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion within the media. In recent years, a variety of NGOs and social movements have called attention to this global environmental issue, but the resulting action has been insufficient. This thesis explores how modern environmental organisations have readjusted their approach to citizen mobilisation according to the demands of a media-saturated, neoliberal society. Effective climate change communication becomes vital in the current social and political landscape, as collective action is hindered by increasing social fragmentation and individualism. The weakening of the democratic public sphere and the depoliticisation of the media has had severe implications on political... (More)
Climate change has become an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion within the media. In recent years, a variety of NGOs and social movements have called attention to this global environmental issue, but the resulting action has been insufficient. This thesis explores how modern environmental organisations have readjusted their approach to citizen mobilisation according to the demands of a media-saturated, neoliberal society. Effective climate change communication becomes vital in the current social and political landscape, as collective action is hindered by increasing social fragmentation and individualism. The weakening of the democratic public sphere and the depoliticisation of the media has had severe implications on political engagement and participation. Moreover, due to the dominance of market-logics, necessary action against climate change seems evermore difficult to implement.

Through a case study of Protect Our Winters (POW) Finland, this thesis sets out to further our understanding of how environmental organisations are seeking to increase public engagement. POW Finland is a relatively new but fast-growing environmental organisation trying to activate the winter sports community against climate change. It is part of a global movement founded by skiers and snowboarders concerned about the effects of climate change. The organisation aims to offer the public easy and accessible ways of taking action against the complex issue. They seek to concretise the problem and bring the issue closer to the Finnish public. More specifically, this is done through the connection to winter sports and snow, which hold cultural importance for a lot of Finns. Social media is used to reach fragmented audiences through inclusive but easily personalised messages.

The thesis aims to provide an insider’s view to the organisation through qualitative interviews with core members of the group, supported by participant observation. More specifically, it examines how POW Finland is aiming to improve public engagement with climate change through their social media activity built upon celebrities and branding. The interviews displayed a dissatisfaction with current climate change communication, which has led to the development of a new form of activism – referred to here as approachable activism. The findings show that the core members of POW Finland are calling for a redefinition of activism that largely works within the existing power structures of neoliberal society. (Less)
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author
Salonoja, Saara LU
supervisor
organization
course
MKVM13 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
environmental movement, activism, climate change, collective action, neoliberalism, political participation, social media, Protect Our Winters, Finland
language
English
id
8906878
date added to LUP
2017-08-21 09:01:30
date last changed
2017-08-21 09:01:30
@misc{8906878,
  abstract     = {Climate change has become an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion within the media. In recent years, a variety of NGOs and social movements have called attention to this global environmental issue, but the resulting action has been insufficient. This thesis explores how modern environmental organisations have readjusted their approach to citizen mobilisation according to the demands of a media-saturated, neoliberal society. Effective climate change communication becomes vital in the current social and political landscape, as collective action is hindered by increasing social fragmentation and individualism. The weakening of the democratic public sphere and the depoliticisation of the media has had severe implications on political engagement and participation. Moreover, due to the dominance of market-logics, necessary action against climate change seems evermore difficult to implement. 

Through a case study of Protect Our Winters (POW) Finland, this thesis sets out to further our understanding of how environmental organisations are seeking to increase public engagement. POW Finland is a relatively new but fast-growing environmental organisation trying to activate the winter sports community against climate change. It is part of a global movement founded by skiers and snowboarders concerned about the effects of climate change. The organisation aims to offer the public easy and accessible ways of taking action against the complex issue. They seek to concretise the problem and bring the issue closer to the Finnish public. More specifically, this is done through the connection to winter sports and snow, which hold cultural importance for a lot of Finns. Social media is used to reach fragmented audiences through inclusive but easily personalised messages. 

The thesis aims to provide an insider’s view to the organisation through qualitative interviews with core members of the group, supported by participant observation. More specifically, it examines how POW Finland is aiming to improve public engagement with climate change through their social media activity built upon celebrities and branding. The interviews displayed a dissatisfaction with current climate change communication, which has led to the development of a new form of activism – referred to here as approachable activism. The findings show that the core members of POW Finland are calling for a redefinition of activism that largely works within the existing power structures of neoliberal society.},
  author       = {Salonoja, Saara},
  keyword      = {environmental movement,activism,climate change,collective action,neoliberalism,political participation,social media,Protect Our Winters,Finland},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Approachable environmental activism : a case study of Protect Our Winters Finland and collective action against climate change},
  year         = {2017},
}