Da Don Quixote kom til Assens

Annette Sode, Lene Kjær Thomsen, Ea Rovsing Olsen, Anne Jensen & Troels Busk Hoff

Studenteropgave: Masterprojekt


This dissertation presents a case study of a current political issue in the Danish municipality, Assens Kommune. Faced with demands from the national government to participate in the increase of non-depletable energy sources, the majority of the municipal council of Assens Kommune, in 2009, unanimously decided to include the raising of windmills in a new district plan. Two years later, in December 2011, the authorities voted against that very same decision and, thus, the windmills will not be raised. The dissertation seeks to examine whether local opposition or other interests have made the majority of the members of the municipal council change their minds. The dissertation consists of a discourse analysis as well as a rational choice analysis. The analyses are carried out using theories from two separate scientific paradigms; the discourse analysis draws upon the theory by Michel Foucault as well as Ernesto Laclau & Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory, and is within the paradigm of social constructivism in which reality is believed to be constructed through the use of language. The rational choice analysis is based on such concepts as collective action, utility maximization and game theory. The theory of rational choice is placed within the positivistic paradigm, i.e., it is based on the notion that an objective reality exists and that conditions in this reality determine the actions of a given social actor. By approaching the case data using theories from two such different paradigms, the dissertation aims at expanding the range of the analyses and, thus, substantiating its results. The discourse analysis is divided into two parts. One seeks to investigate the national discourse on non-depletable energy and climate through an analysis of four debates which took place in the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, prior to the passing of the Non-depletable Energy Advancement Act in 2008. The other part seeks to analyze a series of hearing statements, quotes by citizens and local politicians in articles, and letters to the editor in one regional and two local newspapers - all with regard to the local case in question. The data for this analysis was collected in a period ranging from May 1, 2011 to February 16, 2012. Both analyses break down their 2 respective empirical data by condensing the content and identifying nodal points in order to determine whether the local discourse poses as a counter-discourse to the national. The rational choice analysis seeks to identify the most important participants and their interests in the local debate on the windmills. Subsequently, the analysis seeks to determine if the actions of the participants can be explained through the idea of utility maximization. The analysis identifies the most important participants to be the citizens and the politicians in the area as well as the investors in the windmill initiative. It is concluded that the national and local discourses contain very different nodal points. The analysis of the national discourse shows a discursive battle between supporters and opponents that deals primarily with whether or not climate changes are human-induced and, thus, whether or not the increase in use of non-depletable energy will mitigate the problem. However, the opponents were few, and the supporters won the battle. The analysis of the local discourse reveals that other nodal points dominate the discursive battle; these are, e.g., pertaining to such issues as the possible impact on health, nature and property value, and the issue of local democracy. The rational choice analysis, additionally, concludes that the citizens of Assens Kommune act in accordance with the concept of utility maximization. It suggests that a coming election might have swayed the votes of some of the local politicians, but this conclusion is not unequivocal. Neither supporters nor opponents of windmills in the area question that climate changes are human-induced. Thus, the dissertation concludes that the local discourse is not a counter-discourse to the national. However, the issues and interests identified in the analysis of the local discourse and the rational choice analysis must be acknowledged nationally if a project of this kind should gain support locally.

UddannelserMaster i Professionel Kommunikation (MPK), (Masteruddannelse) Master
Udgivelsesdato2 jun. 2012


  • rational choice
  • diskursanalyse