Movements and media: How are social movements against large-scale land-use change represented in local media and which factors influence this representation?

Particularly since the last global crisis of 2008, large-scale land-use change has risen dramatically across the world and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. However, movements against these investments remain underrepresented and unheard, limiting their ability to mobilise against this rising phenomenon. Bringing together representational and relational research on the relationship between social movements and the media from political and communication sciences, this thesis looks to identify how social movements against large-scale land-use change are represented in the local media and which factors influence this representation. To this end, and based on Ertl (2015), it identifies the structural and movement-specific circumstances of two Jatropha-based cases of large-scale land-use change in Kenya, more specifically concerning the Bedford Biofuels investment in the Tana River Delta and the Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd. investment in the Dakatcha Woodlands. These factors, as well as the key social movement frames employed, are then set in relation to the local media framing of the issue. The analysis shows that particularly the content, focus and type of framing employed by the social movement can have a large impact on a movement’s media representation. Further, structural and protest-specific circumstances determine the extent to which a movement’s framing is taken on. The thesis thus systematises and extends existing theoretical work in the field, paving the way for future comparative research beyond the global North, and providing an insight of the factors vital for social movements to get their voices heard in the ongoing global struggle for land.


Julia Wegner . Freie Universität Berlin .

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