Reviewing the field of environmental communication and climate change: geographically biased, theoretically limited and methodologically monocular

Authors: Sol Agin*, Karlstad University, Michael Karlsson, Karlstad University
Topics: Communication, Environment, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: environmental communication, climate change, quantitative content analysis, framing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate change spans across many disciplines including media and communication. In fact, it can be argued that the problems of climate change to a large extent is a problem of communication, attitudes and behaviour rather than knowledge about climate change and its mechanisms. This place a great responsibility on media and communication research. In response to that challenge we review previous research in the field in terms of, amongst other things; theoretical and methodological approaches; places and people/organisations investigated. The preliminary findings show that framing, confirmation bias, and adaptations of uses and gratifications and agenda setting are the dominating theoretical approaches, and that the research is primarily qualitative. There is also a geographical bias towards certain areas (i.e., it is mainly US-centric, or e.g., focuses on the Amazon rainforest). Moreover, it shows that a majority of people and places most hard hit by the effects of climate change are being overlooked, in benefit of TNC/MNC, large ENGOs or groups of indigenous people and grassroots movements. We conclude by proposing new approaches and perspectives in the climate change context, such as quantitative evaluations of attitudes and behaviours, the implications of filter bubbles and echo chambers on dissemination of information and comparative studies of how local vs global effects of climate change alter peoples willingness to make environmental friendly changes in their everyday lives.

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