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WIREs Clim Change
Impact Factor: 4.571

Narratives in climate change discourse

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‘Stories’ used to communicate climate change knowledge shape opinions and preferences, and analyzing such narratives can help explain how they are constructed and how they influence us on personal and societal scales. The narrative perspective makes it possible to identify the presence or absence of typical components in a ‘story,’ such as initial situation, complication, reaction(s), resolution, and final situation, and to identify different actors or narrative characters (heroes, villains, victims). This article reviews the notions of narratives and frames, describes narrative analysis generally and more specifically how a text linguistic perspective can benefit from and contribute to the Narrative Policy Framework in narrative analysis. It illustrates how different approaches can be applied as analytical tools to explore the effects of conflicting narratives (frames) on public opinion of and attitudes towards climate change. Applied to various text genres, the analysis identifies different components of the ‘stories,’ at overarching levels of the text as a whole and at microlevels such as sentences. This may have rhetorical implications, as controversial points of view can be hidden from critical assessment through the condensation of narrative components into short expressions. When exposed to conflicting ‘stories,’ people get a diverse picture of climate change, a diversity which may, however, also lead to confusion about how to react. Concerning the narrative characters, recent research indicates that a clear hero role has a large persuasive impact. More experiments testing how people interpret various narratives should be undertaken in an interdisciplinary perspective, combining social science, and linguistic approaches. WIREs Clim Change 2017, 8:e429. doi: 10.1002/wcc.429

South African White Paper adaptation narrative.
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Narrative complexity in the South African White Paper.
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Norwegian Citizen Panel mitigation narrative.
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South African White Paper mitigation narrative.
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Perceptions, Behavior, and Communication of Climate Change > Communication

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