The University of Arizona

Negative externalities of food production: discourses on the contested Norwegian aquaculture industry

Erling A. N. Christiansen


The concern of this article is the language and ontology of negative externalities. Four discourses on the financially successful industry of salmon farming in Norway are critically analyzed and deconstructed. The discourses are: "high turnover discourse", "technology optimism discourse", "first nature discourse" and "traditionalist discourse". Groups defending various discourses differ in their interpretations of a) human/nature relations i.e. either ecocentric, anthropocentric or biocentric, and b) in their respective approach to either a transformative, adaptive or reactive logic. By linking interpretations, concepts and logic inherent to these discourses, it is possible to make conclusions on their degree of coherency. The leading discourses are maintained in language through strategic framing and overdetermination. These linguistic mechanisms are revealed in the discursive application of the concepts of sustainability and wild fish.  Rather than to surrender to relativism, the article recommends integration of realism and deconstruction.

Key words: Atlantic salmon farming, food production, critical discourse analysis, negative externalities, soft constructionism, parsimony, political ecology, sustainability. 

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