Daniel Wheelock

Cardiff University

PhD researcher

Duration of your PhD
01/01/2011 - 31/12/2015

Thesis's Supervisor
Lorraine Whitmarsh

My Thesis' Abstract
Tilting at Wind Farms? Representing climate change in public discourse.
The impact of advertising on the meaning of climate change
The contestation of climate change and potential actions to deal with it by the public takes place within public discourse. Past studies have concentrated on competing meanings of climate change at the level of public discourse as a whole, for example framing. However, less attention has been paid to the representations of climate change that are used to construct these meanings in individual messages. My project proposes that there are a limited number of common climate change representations (both linguistic and visual, for example ‘the green economy’ and wind turbines respectively) within public discourse available for this purpose. As a result, these representations will be key sites in the public contestation of the meanings of climate change.

The study aims to identify the most frequent representations of climate change in public discourse and the meanings most commonly attached to them, by combining audience and producer research, with a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of these representations use in advertising. The study proposes that while these representations can have different meanings, they will favour some readings over others. As a result, over time the repeated use in public discourse of the most common representations will favour particular meanings of climate change over others. For example ‘the green economy’ is likely to favour an understanding of climate change as involving a technological fix rather than a return to nature, although it could be read the other way. Understanding these representations’ role in making climate change meaningful could be valuable for climate communicators.

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