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Ecological civilisation: Identity, power and status

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2020
Number of pages336
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


How does the Communist Party of China (CPC) use emotion in its environmental governance rhetoric? This thesis explores the application of emotion in the CPC’s rhetoric on ecological civilisation ( Shengtai Wenming , 生态文明); identifies patterns in the CPC’s use of emotion within that rhetoric; and analyses the relationship between these patterns and the CPC’s strategic objectives regarding environmental governance, their domestic political agenda, and their wider international ambitions. This thesis contributes to emotion research within International Relations (IR) by developing an intuitive, thematic, Emotions Discourse Analysis (EDA). The constructed EDA builds upon Koschut, Hall, Wolf, Solomon, Hutchison and Bleiker’s (2017) EDA, to identify, contextualise and interpret the use of emotion in the CPC’s ecological civilisation rhetoric. The thematic approach is closely based upon Galtung’s (1996a and 2001) Chosenness-Myth-Trauma Complex, in which myths and memories substantiate emotions of chosenness, glory and trauma in political rhetoric.

By approaching the CPC’s ecological civilisation rhetoric via this new and intuitive framework, this thesis concludes that the CPC’s use of emotion helps to continue their nation building through: constructing identity; asserting party power; and vying for increased global status for the PRC. Ecological civilisation is a discursive tool created by the CPC to: encourage the citizens of the PRC to engage with their environmental governance; justify their leadership and assert themselves as the authority (of environmentalism) within the PRC, and to an extent globally; and to elevate the strategic importance of the PRC, as a “big responsible country”, by presenting ecological civilisation as a Chinese-led environmental governance, for mankind