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The Divergent Discourses of Activists and Politicians in the Climate Change Debate: An Ecolinguistic Corpus Analysis

Cunningham, Clare ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3767-7624, Foxcroft, Charlotte and Sauntson, Helen ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0373-1242 (2022) The Divergent Discourses of Activists and Politicians in the Climate Change Debate: An Ecolinguistic Corpus Analysis. Language and Ecology.

The%20divergent%20discourses%20of%20activists%20and%20politicians%20in%20the%20climate%20change%20debate.pdfThe%20divergent%20discourses%20of%20activists%20and%20politicians%20in%20the%20climate%20change%20debate.pdf - Published Version

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There is currently a scarcity of research comparing the linguistic features of discourses of climate activists and politicians about the climate emergency. Understanding how the discourses of these two groups of public figures either perpetuate or challenge hegemonic views about climate change is vitally important. For this study, two corpora were created, the Activist and the Politician, and the analysis adopted key tenets of corpus-assisted discourse
studies (CADS) within a broader ecolinguistic approach. Findings indicate that Activist discourses are anthropocentric and focus predominantly on the negative effects of climate change which are attributed to human actors. The activists’ discourse of climate change is inseparably embedded within discourses of ecological and social justice, and there is a semantic frame of immediacy and realness in relation to climate change which is, by contrast, notably absent in politicians’ corpus. By contrast, the politicians’ talk is characterised by dominant semantic frames of industry, finance, politics and economy. There is very little attribution of climate change to human actors — instead, the language works to devolve responsibility for climate change to non-human actors.
Keywords: corpus linguistics, politicians, activists, discourse, climate change, climate emergencycs, corpus-assisted discourse analysis, ecolinguistics, politicians, activists, discourse, climate change, climate emergency

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/6467

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