How dare she? : A critical discourse analysis of Greta Thunberg
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Original versionWilhelmsen, M. E. (2020) How dare she? : A critical discourse analysis of Greta Thunberg (Master’s thesis). University of Agder, Kristiansand.
This thesis focuses on climate communication and analyses Greta Thunberg’s speeches on climate change. The research concludes that it is the combination of the frames she uses, her rhetorical appeals and who she is that plays a key role in understanding her remarkable success of mobilizing people across the globe. The research identifies five discursive frames. These are the ‘moral prophet frame’, ‘generational justice frame’, ‘power shift frame’. ‘empty rhetoric frame’ and ’scientific frame’. These frames indicate which imaginaries she believes in and appeals to. Climate imaginaries are common understandings, aprioritization of cultural and environmental values and implies a mode of organizing production and consumption. She criticizes the ‘fossil fuels forever’-imaginary and the ‘techno-market’-imaginary. She presents believes in line with the ‘climate apocalypse’-imaginary and is mostly in line with the ‘sustainable lifestyle’-imaginary by wanting a system change from capitalism and consumerism to a greener economic order which focuses on equity and sustainability. This is especially evident in the moral prophet frame, generational justice frame and the power shift frame. Who she is and her popularity can be connected to the ideal type of a charismatic leader and rhetorical appeals. Even though the climate science is clear, many want to avoid the topic of climate change. Mental barriers to avoid acknowledging and doubting climate change are presented and connected to the frames and imaginaries. Thunberg does not tackle many of these barriers and goes against many recommendations on how to frame climate change. Greta Thunberg has shown that you are never too small to make a difference and has gained political power both by what she says and the movement Fridays For Future. This research can contribute with knowledge on Thunberg specifically, and climate communication in general. Keywords: Greta Thunberg, climate change, school strike, climate frames, imaginaries, charismatic leadership, rhetorical appeals, environmental sociology
Master's thesis in Sociology and social work (ME522)