Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Patricia A. Stokowski


Communication across agencies, interested audiences, and the public is central to resource management. While social media expands agencies’ communication options, it also may present opportunities for constructing and presenting “imaginaries” – collectively imagined discourses that that shape understandings of place and influence the world views of followers. Imaginaries are “socially constructed, taken-for-granted meanings about reality that make everyday social and cultural practices seem obvious and sensible to people” (Stokowski et al., 2021). Extending prior research, we sought to understand whether/how resource management agencies used social media to construct and deploy imaginaries. Data were collected during 2021-2022 from resource management agencies in the New England region; nine federally managed sites and six state agencies were chosen for study. From each Facebook page, agency text posts were analyzed for the presence of imaginaries. An initial content analysis was conducted to evaluate topics of written text posts, then several qualitative research methods were used: thematic analysis to examine text forms and styles; and rhetorical discourse analysis to uncover explicit and implicit claims in the data; and discursive analysis of figurative language to interpret imaginaries. Findings show that both state and federal agency text posts use a variety of imaginaries that draw upon well-established romantic ideals of nature to shape the online discourse of “the great outdoors.” The imaginaries observed in the federal study were deployed across agencies and resource units. Imaginaries observed in the state study were agency specific. Findings illuminate the processes of communication used by agencies to reflect their ideals of nature and its management.



Number of Pages

93 p.