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date: 23 April 2017

Ideology, Culture, and Media Discourses about Climate Change

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

It has become conventional wisdom in both policy and academic circles to argue that climate change is not an ideological issue, as the urgency of the threat compels us to overcome political division. Moreover, the rise of climate change on the social agenda appears to have coincided with the decrease of political disagreement about alternative socio-ecological projects in the context of a de-politicized technocratic management of technological and ecological matters. However, discourse and ideology are mutually constitutive. This has two important implications. First, ideological standpoints are entangled with any discursive (re)construction of scientific claims about climate change. There is a cross-insemination between the normative and the descriptive, or the axiological and epistemological in media discourse. Various dimensions of the representation of climate change have been interlinked with ideology in all the journalistic genres, from news reports to opinion articles. Second, particular discursive strategies or framings serve to disavow the ideological nature of media discourse about climate change, thereby impeding both democratic debate and democratic citizenship. For instance, a framing of climate change as a scientific, technological, economic, or moral issue depoliticizes climate change by closing down the space for ideological disagreement.