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Neither Cited nor Foundational: Niklas Luhmann's Ecological Communication; A Critical Exegesis and Some Theoretical Suggestions for the Future of a Field

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In this paper I critically explicate Niklas Luhmann's treatise Ecological Communication (1989). Locating this rather neglected treatise against the backdrop of the embryonic and amorphous academic field of environmental (or ecological) communication (EC), I argue that the treatise provides the only comprehensive conceptual definition of ecological or environmental communication—and it thus deserves attention as well as scrutiny. Past my detailed explication of Luhmann's key concepts, I register my deep disagreements with his philosophy and speculate about why his treatise may have suffered neglect within EC. Briefly mentioning critical traditionalism, I also suggest alternatives to Luhmann's theoretical framework. I devote the last section of the paper to my vision for the future of EC.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: McMaster University

Publication date: 2005-07-01

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