Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Competing to use "green" words

04.07.2008
Organisations with an ambition to appear environmentally conscious are adopting the language of the environmental movement. But businesses are using 'green' words in their own way, concludes Mark Brown at BI Norwegian School of Management.

The environmental movement is no longer the only ones concerned about the climate and the environment. An increasing number of companies now want to appear socially responsible, and have started using words which the environmental movement long considered their very own.

“It is, however, not correct to say that the companies have hi-jacked the green words from the environmental movement. It is rather a matter of businesses having incorporated the green words into their language, using them for their own purpose,” Mark Brown claims. He is a graduate engineer, Cand. philol. (MA) and associate professor at the Institute for Communication, Culture and Languages at BI Norwegian School of Management.

Analysed 9 million words

In connection with his doctorate project at the University of Oslo, Brown has examined how environmental organisations and companies are using green words. He has downloaded all the texts from homepages of 37 selected non-governmental environmental organisations and 25 green companies in the UK. The texts constitute a total of 9 million words, which are gathered in two databases, six million words from the environmental organisations and 3 million words from businesses.

Brown has then compared the language of the two databases with the British National Corpus, which is a standard for average English. He has concentrated on finding the special characteristics of the players' use of the language, and has identified key words. By means of a computer programme he has discovered patterns in the relationship between the words.

Three ways of looking at risk

The BI researcher has found patterns in the use of the language which demonstrate that the companies have adopted the environmental movement's terms. Green companies use the environmental movement's language in describing their own environmentally friendly ambitions, but they use the words in new ways to suit their own purpose.

"My linguistic analyses demonstrate clearly that green trade and industry use certain words in a totally different way than the environmental movement", says Brown. He mentions the word "risk” as an example. In its language, the environmental movement represents the assumed source of the risk and the potential consequences to nature, but says little of how the risk can be managed or controlled.

Green businesses, in turn, focus mostly on managing, controlling and dealing with the risk, to make sure that the chances of this risk occurring are minimal – i.e. practically non-existent. Businesses say very little of the source of the risk, and very little about the consequences for the natural landscape should this risk become reality.

The companies hi-jack nature

Only to a very small degree does the language used by the green businesses contain words that we usually associate with nature - such as trees, flowers, lakes, etc. The companies use "executive language", a management language which makes it possible to manage their relationship with the environment and natural landscape.

The environmentally friendly companies use green words which are tailored to their own businesses, such as "emissions per kilowatt-hour" and "bio-diversity indicator”. Using such measurable terms, the company means to control nature, offsetting the impact and harm to nature against their own production.

"The consequences of this trend ought to provoke some thoughts also in Norwegians", says Brown. He believes he can document that the well-meaning answers from the businesses to the environmental movement in fact may contribute towards exterminating untouched nature.

"Norway is in the process of becoming a completely controlled landscape - a nature shaped by the green companies' technology, and it is all done in the name of sustainable development", he warns.

Audun Farbrot | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bi.no

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>