Values in Antarctica: Discourse Analyses of Two Topical Issues in Antarctic Policy
Thesis DisciplineAntarctic Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In light of growing international awareness and interests in the ‘frozen continent’ of Antarctica, the topic of Values in Antarctica has recently gained more research interest. Due to the complexity of the concept of value, values in Antarctica have been approached from many different perspectives, including Antarctic wilderness and aesthetic values, values manifested in Antarctic law or value based behavioural changes through the Antarctic experience. The present thesis addresses values as human connections to Antarctica with a focus on Antarctic policy-making.
The investigation contained three analytical stages that built on each other. The first stage has been an interdisciplinary literature review examining what values are and how values can be studied, but also considered values in the context of environment, human behaviour and policy. Value and value-related concepts were selected in view of a potential application to the Antarctic. The second analytical stage involved a general framework analysis of the Antarctic Treaty System to identify key elements and structures in the system suitable for a study of Antarctic values, and to develop the research questions. The third stage of analysis included empirical investigations of two Antarctic case studies.
Key elements that influence the Antarctic Treaty System in a way that is relevant for a study of Antarctic values include external factors and events, action situations and actors participating in these action situations. Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts appeared as an action situation particularly suitable for a study of Antarctic values. The last two Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts on ship-borne tourism and climate change have been chosen as case studies, presenting two topical issues in Antarctic policy. Using discourse analysis based on documents submitted to the meetings and the meetings’ reports, values that are driving the discourses were to be identified through structures and patterns in the discourses. Further, based on the discourse analysis following three research questions were to be answered: What role is ascribed to Antarctica concerning contemporary issues? Where and why do conflicts arise in the ATS policy-making process that are based on conflicting values? What changes in the underlying belief-systems are driving policy-making processes and what has caused the change?
Based on the literature, values are defined as internalised codes that affect behaviour and include judgements on what is good and desirable. Through the framework analysis it was identified that Antarctic policy involves a multi-layered system of different value systems, which was considered in the two case studies. For both case studies, values in the discourses were mostly identified based on Schwartz’s basic human value theory. The most prominent human value that drives both the ship-born tourism and the climate change discourse is security. Both discourses are further motivated by the conservation of the Antarctic environment and its associated ecosystems. Other values, such as power and conformity with rules were also clearly expressed in the discourses. With regard to the research questions, both case studies discussed Antarctica from two different perspectives, as a hazardous place for human activities and as a place vulnerable to any kind of changes. Conflicts in the ship-borne tourism discourse were more obvious, while the climate change discourse within the expert meeting proceeded in consensus. Value-based changes that are evident in changes in belief-systems underlying Antarctic policy-making could not be identified.
This thesis argues, based on careful consideration of documents, that values play a crucial role in Antarctic policy-making at a number of different scales: individuals, political actors, and governmental levels. Values were found to be at the core of most, if not all, conflicts within the Antarctic system. Finally, this thesis provides the first understanding of the values held by the various stakeholders involved in governing and use of the Antarctic, which is crucial for further decision-making and research.