Environmental Groups Treading the Discursive Tightrope of Social License: Australian and Canadian Cases Compared

Lyn McGaurr, Libby Lester


Environmental nongovernmental organizations are often challenged to engage in economic debates. One response is to frame contested or protected areas and species as tourism assets. In this exploratory comparative study, we examine the discourse of environmentalists and members of the tourism sector in Australia and Canada for evidence they frame tourism as a social license to protect. We find environmentalists and sympathetic ecotourism operators frame successful activism in scenic places with a history of intense environmental conflict as an investment in tourism and the local economy. This makes a case for protection from extractive industries, but falters when the adversary is tourism itself.


social license, environmental movement, tourism, nature photography, environmental conflict, ecological modernization

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