Framing the environmental issues: a comparative analysis of Northern Finland and Northern Russia

 

 

Framing the environmental issues: a comparative analysis of Northern Finland and Northern Russia

 

It has been argued that a global environmental discourse, which emphasizes global environmental change, is taking shape in the world. Western industrialized countries are seen to lead this process as they lead in creating, designing and governing environmental institutions. Global themes are seen to be crucial factors in organizing environmental debates and citizensí environmental concern. On the other hand, some scholars point out that, whilst the global issues are held of great importance, people still approach them largely from their local, everyday-life-bound perspective.

 

In this paper, we compare the local interpretations of environmental issues in Northern Finland (the city of Oulu) and Northern Russia (the towns of Vorkuta and Usinsk in the Komi Republic) through a frame analytical perspective. Our research material consists of interviews with managers, teachers, workers and environmental experts. Although these northern towns have certain similar features, the socio-political context in Finland and Russia is fairly different. Despite its high level of natural resource usage as well as public and private consumption, Finland is considered to have a stable, well-designed environmental governance. By comparison, the Komi Republic is in a state of transformation, and the environmental institutions and laws are just taking shape there.

 

We propose that the differences in surrounding environments, local conditions and socio-political contexts between Oulu and Komi have brought forth different predominant manners of framing the environmental issues in these localities. These differences in framing are seen in diverging ways of defining and recognizing environmental problems as well as their causes and solutions. Since the bases of interpretation diverge in many respects, also the themes of global environmental discourse, e.g. the climate change, are loaded with locally-bound connotations, rather than reproduced as such.