Talking Past Each Other?

Andrew J. Hoffman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, published “Talking Past Each Other? Cultural Framing of Skeptical and Convinced Logics in the Climate Change Debate” in the March 2011 issue of Organization & Environment.

The abstract:

This article analyzes the extent to which two institutional logics around climate change—the climate change “convinced” and the climate change “skeptical” logics—are truly competing or talking past each other in a way that can be described as a logic schism. Drawing on the concept of framing from social movement theory, it uses qualitative field observations from the largest climate deniers conference in the United States and a data set of almost 800 op-eds from major news outlets over a 2-year period to examine how convinced and skeptical arguments of opposing logics employ frames and issue categories to make arguments about climate change. This article finds that the two logics are engaging in different debates on similar issues with the former focusing on solutions while the latter debates the definition of the problem. It concludes that the debate appears to be reaching a level of polarization where one might begin to question whether meaningful dialogue and problem solving has become unavailable to participants. The implications of such a logic schism is a shift from an integrative debate focused on addressing interests, to a distributive battle over concessionary agreements with each side pursuing its goals by demonizing the other. Avoiding such an outcome requires the activation of, as yet, dormant “broker” categories (technology, religion, and national security), the redefinition of existing ones (science, economics, risk, ideology), and the engagement of effective “climate brokers” to deliver them.

Would you like to learn more about this issue from the author himself? Then, listen to Rebecca Henn, Ph.D. student at University of Michigan, talk with Professor Hoffman about his article in this podcast.

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