Naturressurser til gavn og forbannelse: En diskursanalytisk tilnærming til konflikten om petroleumsutvinning i Lofoten, Vesterålen og Senja

Guri Hanstvedt

Student thesis: Master thesis


Since 1970 there has been an ongoing conflict related to the issue of petroleum extraction in a coastal area in Northern Norway, an area known as a fish-mecca. The conflict started as a question about whether one should or should not extract petroleum north of the 62.latitude and has evolved to a conflict about natural resources in the areas named Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja. The main focus in this thesis is how the political parties in the Norwegian Parliament have discussed the issue throughout time and how meaning is ascribed to natural resources by using different political strategies. By taking a theoretical approach inspired by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the thesis analyzes the emergence of antagonistic discourses and their struggle to achieve a hegemonic position from where they can define the future of the area’s natural resources. By doing this, one can conclude that there has been an increasing complexity in the way meaning is ascribed to natural resource. In the beginning the conflict had a rather narrow focus, mainly concentrating about issues related to how natural resources can ensure industry, employment and settlement in the northern area. The relationship between fish and petroleum was frequently discussed. The elements, which are mentioned above, are still a part of the conflict today. However, a global focus on climate changes and sustainable development has created both an opportunity and a need for new arguments in the conflict. Based on these findings, the thesis discusses and concludes that modern political communication is able to navigate in an increasing complexity and that depoliticization and references to both the historical past and the future can be seen as political strategies in the conflict. Thus, the thesis touches the difficult relationship between politics and knowledge and at the same time indicates that using historical arguments can be seen as a resistance to change as well as a desire for change.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages94