Communication Regarding Sustainable Development – Conceptual Perspectives and Exploration of Societal Subsystems

Sustainability 2013, 5, 2976-2990

15 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2013

See all articles by Jens Newig

Jens Newig

Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, Institute of Environmental Communication

Daniel Schulz

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Daniel Fischer

Arizona State University, School of Sustainability; Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Katharina Hetze

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Norman Laws

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Gesa Lüdecke

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Marco Rieckmann

University of Vechta

Date Written: July 9, 2013

Abstract

Sustainability issues are typically characterized by high complexity and uncertainty. In light of this, communication plays a crucial role in coping with these challenges. The previous debate on sustainability communication has largely focused on how to communicate sustainability issues to others. Sustainability communication, however, involves more than sender oriented communication to persuade others (“communication of sustainability”); it also embraces processes of dialogue and discourse (“communication about sustainability”). Based on this distinction, we develop a typology of communication modes, including communication for sustainability. Inspired by the notion of functional communication systems, we explore sustainability communication in six societal subsystems, applying the typology of communication modes. Drawing mostly on examples from Germany, we find a shift from “communication of” towards “communication about” sustainability in most subsystems. While communication subsystems have a tendency towards operational closure, a variety of interlinkages exist. We discuss three key areas of “opening up” communication subsystems, leading to transdisciplinarity, societal deliberation and governance, each meeting one of sustainability’s core challenges.

Keywords: sustainability communication, typology of communication, communication of about and for sustainability, transdisciplinarity, deliberation, governance

Suggested Citation

Newig, Jens and Schulz, Daniel and Fischer, Daniel and Hetze, Katharina and Laws, Norman and Lüdecke, Gesa and Rieckmann, Marco, Communication Regarding Sustainable Development – Conceptual Perspectives and Exploration of Societal Subsystems (July 9, 2013). Sustainability 2013, 5, 2976-2990, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2291563

Jens Newig (Contact Author)

Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, Institute of Environmental Communication ( email )

Scharnhorststrasse 1
Lüneburg, 21314
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.leuphana.de/newig-jens.html

Daniel Schulz

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Daniel Fischer

Arizona State University, School of Sustainability ( email )

Wrigley Hall
800 S. Cady Mall
Tempe, AZ 85287-5502
United States
+1 (480) 965 9622 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sustainability.asu.edu/person/daniel-fischer/

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Universitaetsallee 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Katharina Hetze

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Norman Laws

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Gesa Lüdecke

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Marco Rieckmann

University of Vechta ( email )

Driverstr. 22
Vechta, 49377
Germany

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