Shale we drill? Discourse dynamics in UK fracking debates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-88
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Volume19
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Shale gas
  • fracking
  • discourse coalitions
  • frames
  • UK

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