| FNI NEWS
Leif Christian Jensen Obtains PhD on Norwegian Discourses
of the High North
(24.01.2013) FNI Senior Research Fellow
Leif Christian Jensen has today successfully
defended his Ph.D. dissertation Norway on a High in the North: A discourse
analysis of policy framing.
Jensen's doctoral work focuses on
the discourses that frame Norwegian policy in the High North. From a
post-structuralist international relations (IR) perspective, Jensen employs
discourse analysis to analyse the Norwegian High North initiative, which was
launched in 2005 and has shaped Norwegian policy since then.
finds the discourses highly relevant for understanding policy and
- These discourses influence policy, although not in a
causal manner. Rather, the two constitute each other in what is a mutual
relationship, he explains.
Drilling for the
One of the discourses identified is the pro-oil
production discourse as opposed to the anti-oil production discourse.
Jensen shows how the pro-oil discourse has managed to use environmental
arguments in favour of drilling in the Arctic, thereby turning the argument of
the anti-oil discourse on its head.
- Rather than cautioning against
production in the Barents Sea for the sake of the environment, this discourse
urged starting as early as possible, because only then could we help the
Russians to improve their environmental performance.
Thus the assumption
has been that Russia's petroleum industry lacks the will and ability to comply
with sound environmental standards - an assumption without foundations in
reality, according to Jensen. Moreover, by using environmental concerns as an
argument for drilling, pro-oil production advocates manage to defuse the
argument of the opposition: that the only way to save the environment is
not to drill.
This process, according to discourse analysis, is
an example of what he has theoretically conseptualised by introducing the
analytical term 'discourse co-optation'. Jensen explains:
co-optation' as an analytical term essentially describes how a discourse
penetrates the heart of its counter-discourse, turns its logic upside-down and
then uses it to re-establish hegemony. The discourse then profits from the
acquisition of a new, powerful argument; the other is weakened by its
In his doctoral work Jensen has closely analysed more than 5,000
newspaper articles and policy documents, a research process that has resulted
in five published articles outlining Norwegian discourses in the High
Leif Christian Jensen's PhD project
has been funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence together with the Fridtjof
Nansen Institute, and has been submitted to the University of Tromsø.
news article (in Norwegian)
|The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an
independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental,
energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a
multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science,
economics, and international law.