fracking

How did the fracking controversy emerge in the period 2010-2012?

Allan Mazur

In 2010-2012, the controversy over fracking grew rapidly, first in the United States, and then internationally. An important step was the anti-fracking documentary film Gasland. With help from celebrity sources, the film was produced and won a prize at the Sundance Film Festival by early 2010 and had an Oscar nomination by early 2011, in the meantime popularizing potent images of hazard including tainted aquifers and ignitable water running from kitchen faucets. During this period, major US news organizations paid little attention to the issue. The offshore Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010 spurred The New York Times to prolific reporting on potential risks of the new onshore technique for extracting shale gas. With flagship news coverage, the controversy had by 2012 gained wide media attention that evoked public concern and opposition, spreading from the United States to other nations.

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Fracking in the UK press: Threat dynamics in an unfolding debate

Rusi Jaspal, Brigitte Nerlich

Shale gas is a novel source of fossil fuel which is extracted by induced hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. This article examines the socio-political dimension of fracking as manifested in the UK press at three key temporal points in the debate on the practice. Three newspaper corpora were analysed qualitatively using Thematic Analysis and Social Representations Theory. Three overarching themes are discussed: “April–May 2011: From Optimism to Scepticism”; “November 2011: (De-)Constructing and Re-Constructing Risk and Danger”; “April 2012: Consolidating Social Representations of Fracking”. In this article, we examine the emergence of and inter-relations between competing social representations, discuss the dynamics of threat positioning and show how threat can be re-construed in order to serve particular socio-political ends in the debate on fracking.

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