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Title: Moral panics and newspaper reporting in Britain : between sceptical and realistic discourses of climate change
Author: Ruiu, Maria Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 8506 1899
Awarding Body: Northumbria University
Current Institution: Northumbria University
Date of Award: 2019
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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.
Supervisor: Mullen, Andy ; Stretesky, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L300 Sociology ; L900 Others in Social studies ; P300 Media studies ; P500 Journalism