Moral panics and newspaper reporting in Britain: between sceptical and realistic discourses of climate change

Ruiu, Maria Laura (2019) Moral panics and newspaper reporting in Britain: between sceptical and realistic discourses of climate change. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis provides the first attempt to empirically apply the moral panic framework to study British newspaper reporting on climate change by drawing upon a unique dataset of 958 news articles over three decades (1988-2016). It is original in the sense that it illuminates the "missing link" between media reporting on climate change and think tanks' denial strategies. By adopting mixed approaches, this work explores both news articles and think tanks' documents and shows how moral panics can help explore rival discourses, and the strategies adopted by powerful actors to "defend" their interests by inflaming confusion. The main implications can be identified in the use of moral panics as a valuable tool for exploring conflicts in which powerful interests are involved, and in better understanding how the "denial machine" works. I argue that in the British context, the politicisation of newspapers' narratives around climate change causes a fracture between two groups characterised by specific dominant traits, which in turn correspond to moral panic attributes. However, even in the context of "conflicted moral panics", one direction prevails, which in this case is the more conservative narrative. This can only be understood by simultaneously observing the processes of construction of each single narrative and their comparison. Therefore, simultaneously considering the two narratives, the overall "confusing image" resulting from both conflicted panics ("centre-left vs centre-right"), and the multidimensionality within the same politicised narrative, might favour a "status quo instance", which reflects the economic, political and social status quo. The interconnections between conservative think tanks and the oil industry, and in turn their influence on dictating the sceptical "story line", suggest that the media "voluntarily" reflect elite power conflicts. These results inform on those elements that inflame hostility and resistance to climate change acceptance. Policy-making that aims to promote "intervention-oriented" approaches should take into account these results, especially in relation to the dialectics between the forces at play.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: 2 volumes
Uncontrolled Keywords: global warming, media reporting, climate narratives, climate skeptics, climate advocates
Subjects: L300 Sociology
L900 Others in Social studies
P300 Media studies
P500 Journalism
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 11:06
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2020 11:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42051

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