Perception of environmental accountability among representatives of different generations in Russia


Iuliia Goman
St. Petersburg State University

Environmental accountability is gaining more significance in today's world. Its concept is represented differently in environmental research: ecological citizenship (Dobson, Valencia, 2013; Melo-Escrihuela, 2008), environmental justice (Middlemiss, 2010), green citizenship (Smith, 2005), environmentally reasonable citizenship (Hailwood, 2004).

Linguistics can serve as a tool to analyse perceptions of environmental accountability in Russian society. In a wider context this analysis is related to psychology as well as environmental politics. In this research the focus is on the content analysis of programs shown on Russian TV and textbooks used in a business school. This analysis can help to find out the implicit meanings of how a certain issue is shaped and from what angle it is shown for average viewers of TV programs as well as presented in textbooks for would-be managers.

One of the concepts with the help of which environmental accountability is presented is perception of
climate change in TV programs. This source of Mass Media is considered well-spread among representatives of Russian society. The perceptions of TV viewers are analysed through the prism of what information a certain TV channel wants them to know. Two TV program s (2010, 2014) on a similar topic were taken as an example to show how perceptions changed, what new concepts were introduced in the debate in a four-year period. Results of content analysis revealed the following : climate change is mostly regarded in connection with catastrophes; it is still not defined as a fact or a public fear; economic benefits from global warming are in focus of discussion.

Another possible source of information for analysis is the content of a textbook for students studying Business English. The aim was to see how the topic of environmental accountability is represented in this source.

The analysis of the second source (the textbook) shows that here the issue of environmental accountability is associated with sustainable development. Company's performance is analyzed from environmental, social, financial dimensions; students learn how to present the position of a group of actors (local government, local business) related to improving the sustainability of the city; they also learn to take real sustainable action (calculating individual carbon footprint).

The conclusion is the following:
1.Being environmentally just to the next generation is a challenge.
2. Information about environmental issues obtained from TV programs is insufficient; further sources of information are needed. Otherwise, an information gap can prevent some layers of society from being well-informed partners in discussions related to environmental accountability, climate change as an example.
3. The discussion of precaution in keeping environment is not typical of an environmental discourse that
takes place via traditional Mass Media sources.

References:
1. Dobson A., Valencia A. 2013. Citizenship, Environment, Economy. New York: Routledge.
2. Hailwood S. 2004. Environmental Citizenship as Reasonable Citizenship. Uppsala: ECPR.
3. Melo-Escrihuela C. 2008. Promoting Ecological Citizenship: Rights, Duties and Political Agency.
ACME: Prague.
4. Middlemiss L. 2010. Reframing Individual Responsibility for Sustainable Consumption: Lessons
from Environmental Justice and Ecological Citizenship. Environmental Values 19(2). The White Horse
Press.
5. Smith G. 2005. Green citizenship and the social economy. Environmental Politics 14(2). Taylor &
Francis.