Sharing language across environmental groups …

One of the greatest strengths of the blogosphere is at the same time one of the greatest challenge: there is so much tremendous stuff, so many tremendous minds out there.  It is hard to keep up with the strength of material and all the good sites.  The “must check out regularly” list keeps growing larger, thus becomes of ever less value. Thus, there are those places where I don’t stop in often enough.   Whenever I return to ScholarsAndRogues, I find good reasons for regretting that I hadn’t been back more frequently. 

Well, just posted is a truly excellent item:  Can enviro groups find shared language and values?   This piece does some content analysis to try to examine the language of environmentalists, environmental evangelicals and “crunchy conservatives”.   

What instantly noticeable is the degree to which the respective sites cast the conversation in terms that directly flow from their stated purposes. No surprise there at all. However, imagine that your task is to find common ground language. Note the near-total exclusivity between the Green and Evangelical language, for instance. Not only does Creation Care not use the language of sustainability, they (we suspect deliberately) don’t even use the term “green.” By the same token, the Yahoo! site’s vocabulary is meticulously secular. The Green GOP site strongly relies on language that suggests the degree to which they see environmentalism as highly politicized. Interestingly, though, their language has more in common with the “left/Green” site than it does with the evangelicals, who we’d expect would be far closer allies, politically speaking.

We are using different words even as (or if) we strive for quite similar objectives. Perhaps this is a lesson to me (us?) to adopt each other’s language, to strive to cross boundary lines to foster stronger relationships and alliances. 

As Dr Slammy ends the post:

The good news is that the ranks of people who care about the environment are growing. The bad news is that they seem to growing around separate, exclusionary values instead of shared ones.

There’s plenty of work to be done, and the sooner we all find ways of talking with each other, the better. Of course, constructing and socializing vocabularies to unite people who disagree deeply is an incredibly complex undertaking, but perhaps realizing these differences is a helpful starting point.

You might want to take the time to read it yourself and consider the word lists. This is clearly just a preliminary effort (how much do the selected sites drive the language?) but a very interesting one nonetheless.


One response to “Sharing language across environmental groups …

  1. I recently updated my reader and blogroll to accommodate the new excellent sources of information I’ve found and was thinking the same thing. It’s getting to the point where I not only have to specialize what I write about on my blog, but now even have to specialize what I read. It’s wonderful, actually, because it means that more people are taking the issue of climate change seriously.

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