Boon or Bane? Discursive Construction of the Shale Gas Controversy

Zeynep Cihan Koca Helvacı


This study explores strategies in pro and anti-shale organizations’ discourse by combining the Discourse-Historical Approach (Wodak, 2001) with corpus linguistics. With the help of keyword lists, collocations, concordances, and key semantic domains, the representations of shale gas extraction, relevant actors and argumentation schemes in opposing discourses of the pro-shale Marcellus Shale Coalition and anti-shale Americans Against Fracking were analyzed. The findings of the study show that the advocates presented shale gas as a bonus for the crisis-struck American society while backgrounding its environmental impacts. The opponents, on the other hand, represented shale gas as a threat to the American ecosystem and public health through an alarming and scientific discourse. The empirical findings of this study add to a growing body of literature on discursive strategies employed by opposing camps of environmental controversies.

Keywords: shale gas, environmental issues, the Discourse-Historical Approach, corpus linguistics, discursive strategies

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www.dialogue-and-discourse.orgISSN: 2152-9620   Journal doi: 10.5087/dad