Stories about Climate Change in Political and Survey Discourse
Keywords:narrative, language, discourse, polyphony, climate change
AbstractThis article discusses the notion of narrative and its relevance in the analysis of different genres of climate change discourse. Two distinct genres are studied, the first of which is the political speech, exemplified by French President François Hollande’s prepared remarks at the climate change conference (COP21) in Paris in late 2015. The second genre has not yet received a label, but can be called “survey discourse”. This refers to answers to open-ended questions in a survey undertaken by the Norwegian Citizen Panel in 2015, where respondents answer freely in their own words the following question: “Concerning climate change, what do you think should be done?” The differences between the two genres are manifold. A political speech is carefully drafted by professionals and represents an institutional commitment by a leader, whereas survey answers are formulated by anonymous, non-specialist respondents, who are not bound by their statements in any way. Despite such differences, our findings will show that all the texts in question comprise a plot where the different characters (heroes, victims, and villains) are integrated into the unfolding ‘story’, thus reflecting the socially pervasive nature of narratives.
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