Lessons from the framing contest over UK shale development: impotence and austerity in environmental politics

Williams, Laurence (2021) Lessons from the framing contest over UK shale development: impotence and austerity in environmental politics. Nature and Culture. ISSN 1558-6073 (Accepted)

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Abstract

The framing of shale gas development has received widespread attention, especially in the UK, US and throughout Europe. This has produced a diverse but often overlapping ‘cataloguing’ of the various frames mobilised by institutional and social movement actors, and communicated through (or excluded from) the media, policy debates, and various invited and uninvited participatory sites. Less though has been said about what lessons can be learnt from the shale development case about the role of language in use in the construction, contestation and closure of environmental problems. Building on and critically engaging with this literature, this article draws out three such lessons. First, in critically reviewing this literature it teases out and clarifies the subtle variations in the way the concept of the ‘frame’ has been interpreted and operationalised (and related, or not, to similar notions such as ‘storylines’). Second, against a backdrop of increasing concerns over both the polarisation of political debate in many countries and the ability of scientific knowledge to resolve environmental policy issues, the article puts forward an analysis of the difficulty of achieving discursive closure in the UK shale development policy debate, focusing in particular on the difficulty of crafting resonant frames and storylines in largely anticipatory debate. Third, the article identifies possible implications of the failure of the ‘bridging fuel’ argument for environmental discourse more broadly, asking in particular whether this failure represents a challenge to ecological modernisation or its continuation.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: discourse, environmental politics, fracking, frames, framing, hydraulic fracturing, shale gas, storylines
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 06:52
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2022 12:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/101314

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
'Fracking', framing and effective participationG2419NERC-NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCILNE/R018138/1