This article examines competing political discourses surrounding shale extraction in the UK. It asks how these meanings are communicated and why certain understandings of the issue gain prominence. Drawing on discourse analysis and framing studies, the article first distinguishes two competing coalitions (pro- and antishale) and their shared narratives or ‘storylines’ (shale opportunity versus shale threat). Through a systematic examination of press reports, websites and public documents, it identifies opposing discursive frames used to shape understanding, meaning and debates, and assesses their resonance and power. The article builds on existing interpretive studies by providing a finer-grained analysis of discourse success, and a greater emphasis on the coalition members who shape and deliver the agreed storyline. It argues that the anti-shale coalition in the UK has thus far enjoyed greater discourse success for two reasons: firstly, because the pro-shale coalition lacks trustworthy messengers; secondly, because shale opponents have successfully expanded the debate beyond economic or environmental concerns to include potent issues of local power and democracy.
- Shale gas
- discourse coalitions