Panel 14 | Climate
CADAAD2022 | 06-08/07/2022 | Bergamo, Italy
132 | Katarzyna Molek-KozakowskaThe interdiscursivity of the “European Green Deal”
First released in December 2019, the “European Green Deal” is a set of communications from the European Commission that outlines EU roadmap to no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_19_6691). This target is to be achieved without the loss to the EU economy, through a set of transformative legal and financial initiatives regarding the energy sector, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, travel and consumption. The transformation is predicated on a technological shift that, ideally, ensures a just, inclusive and gradual implementation of sustainable economic development throughout Europe.
Discursively, the documents also construct an ambitions projection of “EU leadership,” with the Commission presiding over the implementation of a complex framework of innovations through incentives, regulations and funding schemes. While the main purpose is the top-down mitigation of climate consequences of free market economy, the Green Deal seems to be endorsing some neoliberal arrangements in another shape (Hampton, 2015). Given its primary focus on the need for the economic transformation, with the environment and climate left in the background of the argument or as a mere trace (Stibbe, 2014), the documents can also be seen as reproducing some discursive properties of corporate “crisis management.”
The starting point for this critical study is a close thematic analysis, which is supported by keyword and concordance analysis of such words as “sustainability” and “environment” on the one hand, and “transition” and “economy” on the other, with special attention to the semantic prosody of “Europe(an)” (Zappettini, 2019). The concept of interdiscursivity from CDS is then used to identify the contingencies between the environmental, economic and political fields of discourse. Also selected discursive strategies related to nomination, predication, argumentation, perspectivization and mitigation or intensification (Wodak & Krzyżanowski, 2008) are analysed to check how tensions between these discourses are glossed over textually and normalized institutionally (Fairclough, 2000).
Fairclough, N. (2000). New Labour, New Language. Routledge.
Hampton, P. (2015). Workers and Trade Unions for Climate Solidarity. Tackling Climate Change in Neoliberal World. Routledge.
Stibbe, A. (2014). Ecolinguistics and erasure: Restoring the natural world to consciousness. In P. Cap & C. Hart (Eds.), Contemporary Critical Discourse Studies (pp. 585–604). Bloomsbury
Wodak, R. & Krzyżanowski, M. (Eds.) (2008). Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences. Palgrave.
Zappettini, F. (2019). European Identities in Discourse: A Transnational Citizens' Perspective. Bloomsbury.
163 | Ben GlassonMythos in logos: Subjective fragmentation and mythic interpellation in environmental discourses
In any given environmental policy debate, one can detect woven together elements of natural science, economics, ethics, morality, and ideology. Analysing such debates is a complex challenge. Yet, as I will show, myth, in the anthropological sense, can play a binding role in the complex intertextual swirl. Not only are myths under-recognised in such debates, but they are regularly exploited by partisan interests to undermine progress on collective challenges.
The role of myth in contemporary society is underestimated due to the continuing hegemony of the Cartesian subject. Self-sovereign and rational, the subject is imagined to have overcome its pre-modern susceptibility to myth. Methodological difficulties also arise from myths’ presentation across dispersed and fragmented contexts. Myths are largely unperceived because they are ‘woven throughout everyday social discourse’, from television programs to policy debates and idle chatter (Bottici 2007 : 218).
These challenges – which account for myths’ power and for its relegated importance – are taken up in this paper. My point of departure is Hans Blumenberg’s theory of myth (1985, 1983), further developed by Chiara Bottici (2014, 2009, 2007). Myth offers ‘answers’ to pressing questions of human existence, but it does not provide answers so much as distractions that defuse the question.
My approach to the analytical challenge centres on interpellation and identification. Mythic elements are found where certain characteristic forms of identifications are offered to the audience. These identifications can be discerned through formal qualities such as essences, wholes, harmony, with ideals and abstractions. Such comforting wholes defuse pressing questions of contemporary social and environmental existence. Myth exploits the subject’s imbrication in multiple, conflicting discursive assemblages. Contemporary discourses of risk sit uneasily alongside comforting progress myths that survive despite being born in prior epochs.
The UN Global Compact, as a central example of environmental discourse, propositionally acknowledges the impacts and seriousness of climate change. However, at key points it invokes Promethean myths of techno-scientific mastery, promoting corporate innovation and ‘enlightened self-interest’. I trace how the Compact coaxes the reader from an environmental subject position into a classical liberal position. The persuasive effect does not come from rational argument. It is achieved by channelling affective investment into capitalist progress myths and the subject positions they make available. The result is to enshrine the corporation’s role as agent of environmental progress while reinforcing the broader entrepreneurialisation of subjectivity.
The supposed triumph of reason and the misrecognition of the enduring, insidious power of myth can help explain inertia in climate policy. Public support for collective action is diluted by the continued presence and invocation of myths of progress, especially. Discerning the operation and sometimes wilful invocation of these myths is key to overcoming complex social problems.
Blumenberg, H. (1983) The legitimacy of the modern age. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Blumenberg, H. (1985) Work on Myth. MIT Press.
Bottici, C. (2007) A Philosophy of Political Myth. Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM: Cambridge University Press.
Bottici, C. (2014) Imaginal Politics: Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary. Columbia University Press.
Bottici, C. (2009) Philosophies of Political Myth, a Comparative Look Backwards: Cassirer, Sorel and Spinoza. European Journal of Political Theory 8 (3), SAGE Publications365–382.
Connolly, W.E. (2017) Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming. Duke University Press.
UN Global Compact (2021) UN Global Compact Strategy: 2021-2023. New York: United Nations.
167 | Ke Li & Lise FontaineThe discursive legitimation of ecological identity in Chinese sustainability discourse
Research aim.This paper explores how different ecological identities are legitimated in corporate sustainability reports in China. Ecological identity is about all aspects of how individuals identify with nature, namely the individual’s cognitive, intuitive and affective perceptions of ecological relationships (Thomashow 1995).We approach ecological identity through the lens of ecolinguistic discourse analysis, as based on defining characteristics, social roles and community memberships.This study seeks to answer the following 3 research questions: (1)What types of ecological identity are constructed in Chinese sustainability discourse? (2)How are these ecological identities discursively legitimized? (3)How are these legitimate identities lexicogrammatically realized?
Theoretical background. Ecological identities constructed in sustainability reports can be logically understood and discussed in terms of how corporate entities legitimize their ecological identities through discursive strategies. Before exploring the discursive legitimation of ecological identity, it is necessary to refine the concept of ecological identity and determine its central aspects by synthesizing identity theory (Burke & Stets 2009) and theory of community in practice (Wenger 1998). To address the legitimation of ecological identity further, we consider and expand on some of the legitimation strategies proposed by van Leeuwen (2008), that is, authorization, moralization, rationalization and communitization, which can be determined via specific devices.
Methodology.The research aims to capture the discursive legitimation of ecological identity in Chinese sustainability discourse, by analyzing data drawn from the genre of sustainability reports(2016-2020) of Huawei Technologies Corporation. Sustainability reports are a discourse of sustainability. During data collection, each report was manually evaluated to ensure that its primary topic was related or relevant to environmental sustainability. Ultimately, our dataset contains 5 texts with 44,965 words. A combination of detailed qualitative discourse analysis and corpus-assisted quantitative analysis is adopted for this study. The qualitative analysis was conducted by applying MAXQDA, a powerful tool for qualitative and mixed methods research (Gizzi & Rädiker 2021).The quantitative analysis was carried out by using KH Coder, a software for quantitative content analysis and text mining (Higuchi 2016). Specifically, all our corpus data were in Microsoft Word format and were imported into MAXQDA’s document system, then coded at both local and global levels within the textual context.
Preliminary results. The findings suggest that a mix of ecological identities can be identified across all texts to delimit Chinese sustainability discourse. These ecological identities are legitimized in terms of the tri-attributes, namely defining characteristics, social roles and community membership. In legitimizing community memberships, whilst there is divergence in how the institution communitizes with nature and other non-nature entities in collective participations when it is agentive, there is convergence in terms of construing the hierarchical relationship between the institution and other entities.
Burke, P. J., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. Oxford University Press.
Gizzi, M. C., & Rädiker, S. (Eds.). (2021). The Practice of Qualitative Data Analysis: Research Examples Using MAXQDA. BoD–Books on Demand.
Higuchi, K. (2016). KH Coder 3 reference manual. Kioto (Japan): Ritsumeikan University.
Thomashow, M. (1995). Ecological identity: becoming a reflective environmentalist. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995
Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and practice: New tools for critical discourse analysis. Oxford university press.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning as a social system. Systems thinker, 9(5), 2-3.
169 | Robert Lawson, Eszter Szenes, & Gavin Lamb"The gap between your actions and your words is becoming harder to ignore": A multi-disciplinary analysis of discourses around Greta Thunberg.
In August 2018, Greta Thunberg sat alone outside the Swedish Parliament with a handwritten sign that read skolstrejk för klimatet (“school strike for climate”) to demand urgent climate action from world leaders. In just one year, this 16-year old climate activist has inspired the “Fridays for Future” demonstrations and a series of global climate strikes joined by millions of people all around the world, leading her to be named TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’ in December 2019. Her success, however, has also attracted waves of criticism and online abuse, ranging from insults about her appearance and mental health to violent threats, mainly from the fossil fuel lobby, radical right politicians, journalists, and climate change deniers.
In this paper, we present a preliminary corpus-based analysis of Twitter data collected in the week before, during, and after Thunberg’s UN address in September 2019 to investigate the links between climate denialism, eco-misogyny, and eco-fascist/far-right discourses. In particular, we examine the most frequent hashtags and their collocates to show how Greta is positioned in terms of her age, gender and nationality. We also discuss how an analysis of the interactive aspect of Twitter, via retweets and mentions, reveals Twitter users’ alignment into particular sub-cultures and their affiliation with or resistance against Greta Thunberg and the broader climate action movement inspired by her. Of particular concern in this regard are the far-right environmental discourses that Twitter users circulate through negative tweets about Greta Thunberg in order to build oppositional ecopolitical identities and communities. Taking all of this together, our analysis shows how the online space of Twitter become a site for political and social contestation along the broader cline of pro-/anti-climate change positions.
We end with a brief discussion concerning the implications of this research for positive discourse analysis. In particular, in order to understand how social change happens we consider how, as an example of ""helpful accounts of inspiring initiatives"" (Martin 2004), Greta Thunberg has been able to mobilise masses of protesters around the world and inspire a global climate activist movement.
Martin, J. R. (2004). Positive discourse analysis: Solidarity and change. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 49(1), 179-202."
172 | Mirjam GruberClimate change in a time of populism: A critical discourse analysis about climate change communication of political actors
Over the last decades, the rise of the far right and populist movements in Europe and its resulting impact on liberal democracies and party politics have been subject to a vivid debate among researchers. In addition, researches, the public and politics intensively discussed the current environmental crisis (air and water pollution, climate change, etc.). While both subjects have been analyzed on their own, this study focuses on their nexus. Existing research highlights that many right-wing populist parties (RWPs) show in one way or another skepticism towards (anthropogenic) climate change. To understand this skepticism and its possible impact on climate change mitigation, I analyze how RWPs of Germany, Spain, and Austria frame the issue of climate change in their mainstream politics. Secondly, even though public support for such political parties and movements is growing, research also agrees that in particular the mainstream parties (mostly the big parties left and right of the political center) influence the public discourse (van Spanje, 2010; Wodak, 2018) and therefore it is central to understand possible (inter)relations of RWPs and mainstream parties in the climate change discourse. Thus, the second part of this research project concentrated on the development of the concept of climate change in the communication of mainstream parties.
In a first step, drawing on the methodological apparatus of the discourse-historical approach in critical discourse studies, I study how, when and in which context RWPs use the climate change discourse. In a second step, in the light of the literature on party competition and applying a discourse conceptual analysis (Krzyżanowski, 2013, 2019), I examine possible correlations of a climate change-skeptical communication of RWPs and a possible change of the climate change discourse of established parties right and left of the political center.
This analysis will center on the development of discourses in the context of climate issues over a longer period of time. Specifically, I will compare various documents (social media posts, press releases, parliamentary debates, policy documents) over time to study climate change discourses of various political parties in three European countries. The time span of the analysis ranges between 2016 and 2020, after RWPs gained power in various EU member states and the issue of climate change has become very salient in European media and politics.
Results show that the national relevant RWPs increase their communication on climate change when its salience in society increases. Moreover, RWPs typically deny anthropogenic climate change and expresses concern about climate protection policies. Furthermore, the analysis reveals whether established parties show a discourse shift in their communication and their framing of climate change after RWPs take up the issue and express skepticism towards climate change and corresponding policies. This research project shows how important it is to investigate certain actors and their communication or discourses as well as to understand the processes and possible relations behind them to comprehend and influence policy framing and decision-making processes.
Krzyżanowski, M. (2013). Chapter 3. Policy, policy communication and discursive shifts.
Krzyżanowski, M. (2019). Brexit and the imaginary of ‘crisis’: a discourse-conceptual analysis of European news media. Critical Discourse Studies, 16(4), 465–490.
van Spanje, J. (2010). Contagious parties: Anti-immigration parties and their impact on other parties’ immigration stances in contemporary western europe. Party Politics.
Wodak, R. (2018). Vom Rand in die Mitte – „Schamlose Normalisierung“Transforming Marginalised Politics into Mainstream Agenda—“Shameless Normalisation.” Politische Vierteljahresschrift.
185 | Maria Cristina CaimottoEveryday travel choices between hegemonic narratives and “the new normal”
Everyday mobility choices - walking, cycling, driving, using public transport - is one of the aspects of people’s lifestyle that are least likely to change due to its habitual nature and the ways in which this personal choice is linked to a person’s identity. As mobility choices in urban environments represent an important source of air pollution and road traffic deaths amount to 1.35 million people each year, policy makers increasingly look for strategies to influence people’s mobility choices and reduce car dependency. But these attempts are carried out in a social and discursive context that has made car use normal, dominant and popular, and it is increasingly evident that – apart from changes to road infrastructures – important changes are required in the ways in which alternative mobilities are promoted and discussed.
The language we use, even when promoting active mobility, is deeply influenced by a market-related discourse and by “growthism” (Halliday 2001), thus revealing why this kind of language is particularly detrimental when aiming to promote cycling, given the deep “tight ideological symbiosis between the values promoted by automobility (individual freedom and autonomy) and the rationalities of neoliberalism” (Walks 2015, 10-11). This study, through an Ecolinguistic approach, aims to reveal the risks of market-related framing and to promote reframing strategies that could prove more effective when promoting cycling. At the same time, Positive Discourse Analysis (Martin 2004) is employed to reveal the linguistic features that work positively towards the construction of a more effective language. The examples are drawn from the following case studies: the 2016 white paper ‘Sustainable Urban Transportation. Creating Green Liveable Cities’, the 2017 ‘EU Cycling Strategy’ developed by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the 2018 Mayor’s Transport Strategy and the Cycling Action Plan for London, the 2020 report “Climate Safe Streets” by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and a selection of recent newspaper articles discussing the “new mobility” after COVID-19 lockdowns.
Caimotto, M.C. (2020) Discourses of Cycling, Road Users and Sustainability: an Ecolinguistic Investigation. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan.
Fairclough, N. (2016). A Dialectical-Relational Approach to Critical Discourse Analysis in Social Research. In R. Wodak & M. Mayer (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Studies (3rd ed., pp. 86–108). London: Sage.
Halliday, M. A. K. (2001) New Ways of Meaning: The Challenge to Applied Linguistics in Fill A. and Mühlhäusler P. (eds.) The Ecolinguistics Reader: Language, Ecology and Environment. London and New York: Continuum, 175-202.
Lakoff, G. (2010) Why it Matters How We Frame the Environment, Environmental Communication, 4:1, 70-81.
Martin J. R. (2004) Positive discourse analysis: Solidarity and change, Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 49: 179-200.
Mautner, G. (2010) Language and the Market Society. Critical Reflections on Discourse and Dominance. London: Routledge.
Meadows D. H. (2008) Thinking in Systems. A Primer. Diana Wright Ed. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
Stibbe A. (2014) An ecolinguistic approach to critical discourse studies, Critical Discourse Studies, 11:1, 117-128.
Walks A. (Ed.) (2015) The Urban political economy and ecology of automobility: driving cities, driving inequality, driving politics. London and New York: Routledge.
206 | Lurissa den Dulk, Marleen Buizer, Bertie Kaal & Laura KleerekoperTransdisciplinarity in the case of urban climate adaptation: What discourse analysis offers practitioners and academics
Urban areas are vital for climate action, and vice versa. Initiatives are various, ranging from citizen-led urban farms and gardens to government-led, large-scale infrastructural adaptive technologies. Yet when it comes to citizen ‘participation’ or ‘engagement’ with urban climate adaptation initiatives, many researchers and municipalities notice that action on these fronts can lead to mitigated designs that are less climate proof, or initiatives that are rejected by citizens. This is made all the more frustrating by the fact that citizens, researchers, and governments believe themselves to be acting in good faith and have made sufficient efforts to communicate with other stakeholders. We posit that such urban climate adaptation initiatives are discursive spaces.
Our approach to the political, technological, and humanitarian aspects of these discursive spaces, and the accompanying frustrations and shortfalls, is based on Fairclough's transdisciplinary principles (2003) and has two angles. First, our team of researchers come from different disciplines and specialties. We each approach the problems within the discursive space of our case from our disciplinary perspective and/or specialty (complex systems theory, interpretive discourse analysis, discourse-space theory, and urban adaptation engineering).
In our second angle on this transdisciplinary project we chose to also study how we interact in the agonistic discursive space created by our team work. It is this second angle that makes our project unique and relevant for Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines. We do not simply combine disciplines, but we attempt to extract converging answers. In this paper, we analyse the process of working together across disciplines. What happens when we engage in a transdisciplinary, norm-breaking discourse about urban climate transformation, that is itself transformative? How do various discourses, research norms and theories interact in agonistic space? How do we interpret the discursive space in which we work? And, of course, what do we learn from normalising transdisciplinary research?
Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research (2nd ed.). Routledge.
304 | Niall CurryClimate discourses across language, discipline, and text
Research on the discourses of climate change occupies an important niche in applied linguistics literature. Spanning studies of social media, newspapers, government policy, and political discourses (e.g., the recent COP26), work in this area has revealed that cultural variation plays a critical role in determining how issues such as deforestation and climate scepticism, for example, appear to be of varying importance across languages, cultures, and genres. In the context of academic and parascientific texts, variation in how climate change discourse is socially constructed is apparent across disciplines and genre, with academics framing and discussing climate change in notably different ways when writing for different disciplinary, transdisciplinary, and specialist/non-specialist audiences.
To understand this variation, corpus linguistics serves to demystify how we conceive of, share, and construct climate change epistemologies in a range of contexts and can demonstrate the complexity of the issue from the perspective of a range of stakeholders. However, while corpus research in the context of climate change is evidently growing, in academic discourse studies, the anglocentricity of this work risks epistemicide and knowledge loss from non-anglophone contexts. While in media discourses, cross-linguistic/cultural variation has been investigated and found to play a key role in differentiating the construction of climate change discourse, there is a dearth in multilingual work on academic discourse. This means that our understanding of how academic knowledge of this global issue is localised and constructed across languages, disciplines, and specialist/non-specialist academic texts remains unclear. It is to this gap in the literature that this research contributes.
Recognising the need to unpack how academic discourses on climate change correspond and vary as knowledge moves across languages, disciplines, and academic and parascientific texts, this talk presents a corpus-based contrastive analysis of climate change-themed research articles and academic blogs from hard and soft sciences in English, French, and Spanish. These languages were chosen owing to their roles as global linguae francae and their national value in a number of countries for disseminating research to practitioners, policy makers, and government officials. Drawing on a range of corpus techniques, including key word analysis and function-to-form/form-to-function analysis, the aim of this paper is thus to show correspondences and differences in climate change discourses across the corpus with a view to identifying the ways in which climate change knowledge is constructed. In doing so, the study identifies potential points of ambiguity and confusion in the linguistic construction of climate change when contrasted on the global and multidisciplinary stage.
Though currently a work in progress, it is anticipated that the results of this study will offer a number of key contributions to corpus linguistic research on climate change. First, it will add a much needed multilingual perspective on a global issue that has largely been studied in the English language. Second, the results will illustrate key differences that occur in the social construction of climate change knowledge across language, discipline, and genre. The identified differences point to ways in which the linguistic construction of climate change knowledge can contribute to misconceptions, misrepresentations, and confusions surrounding this issue, which, in turn, can hamper the development of a coherent, collective understanding of climate change as a global, multicultural, and transdisciplinary issue. Building on this, the findings can therefore help guide academics and science communicators to communicate more effectively their research on this important issue to their multifaceted audience.