Review of shale gas social science in the United Kingdom, 2013–2018

Darrick Evensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article critically reviews social science research on unconventional hydrocarbon development in the United Kingdom. I analyse fifty research articles published over the last half decade. The articles fit into three primary categories: (1) public perceptions, (2) discourse and rhetoric, and (3) planning and regulation. This review reveals both what social scientific inquiry has taught us and what gaps remain. We have reasonable understanding of: extent of public support for and opposition to development, basic factors related to support and opposition, procedural and distributive justice concerns leading to opposition, repeated academic critiques of UK planning guidance and regulation, and the frequent use of environmental risks and economic benefits as competing discursive frames. We lack understanding of: how discourse and rhetoric about shale gas, or how knowledge about development, influence public perceptions; how perceptions and discourse at local and regional levels in the UK compare with the national level; what information sources the public rely on and trust on this topic; whether estimates of economic benefits are reliable; and importantly, how perceptions, discourse, and policy will evolve in light of imminent changes to the production and policy landscape. I conclude with recommendations for filling the emergent lacunae in our understanding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-698
Number of pages8
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Issue number4
Early online date29 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • hydraulic fracturing
  • public perception
  • planning
  • regulation
  • discourse
  • UK


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