Citizens’ Social Representations of Nature in Social Media

Researchers: Ulrika Olausson (project leader) and Peter Berglez

Funding: The Swedish Research Council Formas

About the project

The project deals with how citizens represent nature in social media. Since the media landscape is becoming increasingly digitalized and more and more information is channeled through social media, it is important to get insights into how nature is talked about and visualized in these media. A lot of the opinion forming around environmental issues also takes place in these fora. Knowledge about how citizens relate to nature is needed for handling the environmental challenges that we are facing. Previous research has investigated how nature is represented in media, movies, politics etc., but research on how citizens communicate nature, especially in social media, is scarce despite the fact that social media is a rich environment for studying representations of nature. There, we can find a large number of groups, pages, videos, and so on, dealing with anything from climate change to eco-tourism and green energy. To capture representations of nature three cases, which are often discussed in social media, will be studied: renewable energy, hunting, and mining/fracking. Environmental issues often involve conflict, since different people relate differently to nature, and the three selected cases are examples of issues that involve a lot of conflict. Knowledge and understanding of how different opinions on environmental issues are created, negotiated and changed in social media are important for authorities and organizations to facilitate constructive communication about these issues.

Project period: 2017-2019


Olausson, U. (2018) “Stop blaming the cows”: How livestock production is legitimized in everyday discourse on Facebook. Environmental Communication 12(1): 28-43.

Mörner, C. and Olausson, U. (2017) Hunting the beast on YouTube: The framing of nature in social media. Nordicom Review. DOI: 10.1515/nor-2016-0038.