Ecological Citizens with a Movie Camera: Communitarian and Agonistic Environmental Documentaries
2. Literature Review
2.1. Forms of Ecological Citizenship
2.2. Political Documentary, Video Activism and Environmental Documentary
3. Research Design
4. Method and Data
- Film context: Media interviews, websites and social media channels were examined to reconstruct the political objectives, the context of production and distribution as well as the personal background of the respective filmmakers.
- Sequence protocol: Following Leonarz (2006, pp. 167–68) the full transcript was analytically divided into sequences. A sequence was defined as a unit which separates from other sequences through change of speakers, depicted locations or through lettering or any sort of signal that needs to be understood as drawing a boundary between any two sequences. Hereafter, all sequences were transposed into a spreadsheet whose columns contained information about: time code of each sequence; spoken text; written text; elements of visualization, including camera movements; acoustic effects and music.
- Coding/Interpreting the framing functions: After interpreting the interplay of spoken, written, further visual and acoustic elements of a sequence, each sequence’s single or multiple framing functions were coded as diagnostic, prognostic, and motivational functions. Each sequence was qualified through a short written interpretation of the framing.
- Macro structure: The distribution of the framing functions throughout the film was analyzed to see whether there is a dominance of a certain function or a pattern, e.g., first demonstrating the problem followed by strategies and solutions. Are there distinguishable chapters in the film? What is the overall structure of the rhetoric in reference to Kanzog (2001, pp. 11–13)?
- Summary Interpretation: The frame interpretations for each sequence then were clustered (Leonarz 2006, pp. 163–64) into distinctive summary frames. The documentary was watched another time in order to double check the summary interpretation. The original aim of the study was to reconstruct the framing and rhetoric as such, but for this article a re-interpretation and focus was set on those results which relate to the question of ecological citizenship. The summary of these respective frames is provided in the Appendix A (Table A1 and Table A2). The framing and rhetoric were analyzed according to the analytical scheme displayed in theresearch design.
5. A Comparison of Two Environmental Documentaries
5.1. Film Example 1: Leben Ausser Kontrolle
My films are supposed to encourage people to change things and not give up, thinking that there is nothing one can do.
It’s a technology that cannot exist with nature. It’s a technology that invades, pollutes, contaminates and ultimately destroys the natural species.(00:44:50)
Vandana Shiva, with a PhD in physics and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, has dedicated herself to small Indian farmers and the preservation of biodiversity for almost 20 years. In the meantime she has become a formidable and loathed opponent of internationally operating chemical groups such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Conagra, Cargill, Bayer and others.(00:12:54)
International environmental organizations are competing to gain Percy Schmeiser as a speaker to warn farmers in the US, Europe and also the so-called third world about chemical multis. In the last two years alone, he has visited over 40 countries.(00:09:53)
These plants, these animals deserve their genetic integrity. They are things of great beauty. They are things that were made either through divine intervention or millennia and millions of years of evolution. We have no right, for profit or research, to change them fundamentally. They deserve to be loved and protected. And that’s why I do what I do.(00:39:06)
5.2. Film Example 2: Voices of Transition
“When all people in the cinema get together and start to think‚ what can we do with this positive energy that the film conveys? That’s when I get the feeling that the film has accomplished its goal. From the start, it was meant to be a tool in the service of the social-ecological movement, a kind of catalyst for change.”
Global demands call for an agricultural revolution. Introducing the genuity brand—Monsanto’s family of breakthrough traits across corn, soybean, cotton and specialty crops. It’s innovation we pursue for only one reason (00:06:02) maximizing profit. Growing with Prosaro—it’s like growing money.(00:06:22)
Many aspects of globalization simply will become unfeasible and simply have no future. My sense is that the worst elements of capitalism are inevitably numbered in days of how long they can last. So we can choose to invest our energy in whether we campaign against something which is in demise or whether we focus our energy on building up systems that we will need here, so that we can step off and onto another system.(00:25:35)
Very quickly people could see that by being creative in their thinking there was so many ideas we could come up with and how this would link in with all sorts of other very good things happening. And this was a very important part of the process for people to recognize that becoming creative and opening up was actually essential to making a really good plan. So with that in mind, within the process the next day, we just said: ‘Ok, we’ve created these visions. If we put the visions in the middle of our plan now, how do we get there—from food, from transport, energy—what do we need to put in place?’ Often we think that we have to know so much—we have to be experts on transport, we have to be experts in wind turbines—to be able to say what we should be doing. And actually, you know, we need to, as a community, say that this is the main way we need to move. And then the experts come in and just tinker with our plans.(00:29:18)
I don’t even know if yet we can say, we know what ‘Transition’ is. Transition is really a process of exploring what’s best practice in terms of how to set up currencies or food systems or local energy or companies, these kind of things. And gathering people together who are similarly passionate about it.(00:30:17)
Moving from where we are to where we want to go isn’t something that we do because we have to. It’s something that we do because it nourishes us. It feels like the right thing as human beings to be doing. The key thing is actually, that the people who I meet, who do it, are happier for having done it.(00:31:47)
Actually, it could be fantastic over there. You know, we could have more time for each other. We could be more relaxed. We could actually learn how to use our hands again, be more creative and more useful. We could be less in debt. We’d have more time to play and to celebrate life.(01:03:58)
6. Results and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
|Framing Functions||Frames (with Examples of Frame-Elements in Brackets)|
|Diagnostic Framing||Problem Definition:|
|Framing Functions||Frames (with Examples of Frame-Elements in Brackets)|
|Diagnostic Framing||Problem Definition:|
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The fifth aspect, social relations and decision making within a movement, is left out here because the two film examples give little evidence on this. Other documentaries, however, might place a stronger focus on the internal democratic processes in a group or movement.
Translated by the author.
Translated by the author.
Translated by the author.
A podcast of the discussion at the Heinrich Böll Foundation is available online: Rob Hopkins, performance and discussion with Barbara Unmüßig and Renate Künast, Green Lecture mit Rob Hopkins: Transition—Modell für eine zukunftsfähige Lebensweise?, podcast audio, 28 February 2013, https://soundcloud.com/boellstiftung/green-lecture-rob-hopkins-transition.
|Communitarian Ecological Citizenship||Agonistic Ecological Citizenship|
|Diagnostic Framing||Society as a Community||Power Elites/Structures|
|Prognostic Framing||Sustainable Consumption||Protest|
|Constructing Local Communities||Organizing Social Movements|
|Motivational Framing||New Consensus||New Hegemony|
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Hedemann, K. Ecological Citizens with a Movie Camera: Communitarian and Agonistic Environmental Documentaries. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 307. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8110307
Hedemann K. Ecological Citizens with a Movie Camera: Communitarian and Agonistic Environmental Documentaries. Social Sciences. 2019; 8(11):307. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8110307Chicago/Turabian Style
Hedemann, Katrin. 2019. "Ecological Citizens with a Movie Camera: Communitarian and Agonistic Environmental Documentaries" Social Sciences 8, no. 11: 307. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8110307