Production of absence through media representation: A case study on legitimacy and deliberation of a pulp mill dispute in southern Chile

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Deliberation is increasingly promoted as a means for producing legitimate decisions in a wide variety of public and private governance schemes. Through a case study of a disputed pulp mill in Chile, the study challenges that assumption by examining what the media representation reveals in terms of how legitimacy is constructed in the public sphere. The study asks how were the demands of marginalised stakeholders presented and contested in media texts over time and how this representation contributed to the legitimation process of the mill in the public sphere. Through a decolonial analysis of the newspaper texts, the study finds that the media representations preconditioned how legitimacy was constructed through deliberation, producing an absence of those who did not support the project. Not only does this type of exclusion affect the stakeholder willingness to participate but the legitimacy of the governance schemes itself is at risk when stakeholders chose to defend their demands in its exteriority. The study concludes that to overcome the challenge of exclusion in the public discourses, the focus of public participation need to change from an abstract rational argument driven debate toward an engaged dialogue on subsistence and co-existence in a world where all living beings are interconnected and valid contributors to the debate.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalGeoforum
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


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