Nature's Say: composition networks of promotion and resistance in fracking, GM food and nanotechnology

TitleNature's Say: composition networks of promotion and resistance in fracking, GM food and nanotechnology
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Murphy, P., and C. P. Hong
Affiliation (1st Author)DCU
Section or WGEnvironment, Science, and Risk Communication Working Group
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeENVW4a
Slot Code (Keyword)ENVW4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
RoomHelix Blue Room
Session TitleEnvironmental Sustainability and Crises in Ireland: Performing Public Participation or Public Acceptance?
Submission ID7349
Abstract

Nature's Say: composition networks of promotion and resistance in fracking, GM food and nanotechnology Dr. Padraig Murphy and Chao-Ping Hong School of Communications, Dublin City University This paper is submitted with the intention of participating to the panel "Environmental Sustainability and Crises in Ireland: Performing Public Participation or Public Acceptance?" as proposed by Dr. Pat Brereton and Brenda McNally, DCU. Abstract This paper will examine the communication interactions between key actors of three emerging technologies in Ireland that have created recent 'flashpoint' controversies regarding the relationship these technologies have for, or against, the environment.  The technologies are: hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', genetically modified foods (specifically a species of potato), and nanotechnology. We will present evidence that, although there are specificities to the types of threats or benefits each of these developments present to the environment -as identified by media coverage - there are also common discursive themes of "nature" "progress" "technology" "protection" etc that can be identified through focusing on interactions, rather than the framing mechanisms of the actors themselves.  While a first analytical step might reveal a simple divide in opinion between industry and non-governmental or community organisations, a more subtle picture emerges when various discourses are mapped that ties onto a structural narrative of a "green economy" involving local authorities, Government  and various levels of expertise on "nature." This paper acknowledges and builds on a presentation from one of the authors to Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference 2012 in Florence. This previous paper introduced tensions between communication strategies of these three technologies based on two strategic positions of 1) dialogic science communication and 2) the more one-way approach of "new nation-state” building. This paper presents an empirical study based on discourse and social network analysis of 2011-2012 media coverage.  The overarching theoretical framework is based on contemporary readings of Latour's actor-network theory, particularly his work on compositions[1]. Preliminary results reveal a clustering discursive effect of media and associated public engagement activities on how "public" and "nature" are represented – these terms are constructed as discursive devices to maintain the network, or composition. Surprisingly, there are compositions which can be described as "harmonious" between what may seem like oppositional forces in the new battleground for the Irish natural environment and its resources, a battleground where there are many who claim to be "defending nature".   Keywords: science communication, ecology, composition networks, fracking, GM food, nanotechnology, actor-network theory [1] Latour, B. 2010. An Attempt at a “Compositionist Manifesto”. New Literary History, 2010, 41: 471–490

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