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Articulated nature: An examination of the relationship between environmental struggle and the culture of nature, 1945--1975

Christopher William Podeschi, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The “commonsense” meanings of nature encoded in the artifacts of popular magazines (e.g., advertisements, features, fiction, etc.) from 1945 through 1975 are uncovered and examined to see if and how this aspect of culture “articulated” trends in the character and intensity of environmental struggle. The work is guided by critical theory of culture and Kellner's (1995) notion of “contextual cultural studies,” which emphasizes the relationship between cultural production and “the fundamental conflicts within society” (p.102). There is also an attempt to shed light on a dissonance in the literature on the “culture of nature”: some historical and survey research finds culture changed significantly in response to environmental struggle while media and discourse research finds trends contrary to environmental concern. A combination of semiotics and qualitative methods is used to “decode” the cultural materials and explore the relationship between culture and struggle. In terms of findings, nature is a well-appreciated but generally insignificant sign, and little apparent relationship between environmental struggle and the meanings of nature is found, despite the emergence of modern environmentalism. Evident are minor shifts in emphasis rather than qualitative shifts in meaning. This also means the argument that culture became more environmentally concerned is unsupported. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, General

Recommended Citation

Podeschi, Christopher William, "Articulated nature: An examination of the relationship between environmental struggle and the culture of nature, 1945--1975" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3074095.