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“Thoughtless dog owners we’re watching you!”: an eco-critical discourse analysis of discourses of responsibility in the Keep Britain Tidy campaign

Myhill, Ryan Jason (2021) “Thoughtless dog owners we’re watching you!”: an eco-critical discourse analysis of discourses of responsibility in the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. Masters thesis, York St John University.

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Litter and plastic pollution is a highly-problematic issue because it has a detrimental impact on animals, humans, nature and the environment (see DiGregorio, 2009; Townsend & Barker, 2014; Wyles et al., 2016; Schlanger, 2019; Velis & Cooke, 2020 for instance). In recent years, several studies have examined the role, properties and effectiveness of environmental campaign discourses (i.e. Packwood Freeman, 2013; Rootes, 2013; Kim-Kimchi & Manosevitch, 2015; Poole 2016; Gulliver et al., 2020), but few have considered environmental campaign discourses concerning litter and plastic pollution (although see Latinopoulos et al., 2018; Ram Lee et al., 2018). Meanwhile, the existing literature surrounding discourses of responsibility has primarily focused on the erasure and marginalisation of animals, the environment and nature (i.e. Chawla, 1991; Goatly, 2002; Stibbe, 2019), rather than the absence of corporate responsibility towards environmental issues (although see Kahn, 1992; Alexander, 2013; Gammelgaard Ballantyne et al., 2021).

Combining Van Dijk’s Socio-Cognitive Approach to Critical Discourse Analysis (Van Dijk, 2008a; 2017) with Stibbe’s the stories-we-live-by framework for ecolinguistics (Stibbe, 2015; 2020), this research provides a critical analysis of a series of environmental campaign posters concerning litter and plastic pollution that were published or endorsed by Keep Britain Tidy between 1971 and 1981 or 2011 and 2021. It considers how the stories-we-live-by relating to the responsibility of litter and plastic pollution are revealed by framings, metaphors, evaluations and identities as well as whether discourses of responsibility have evolved over time. It also highlights the benefits of combining Critical Discourse Analysis with ecolinguistics in order to reveal new stories that not only preserve the environment, but also physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
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/6481

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