Climate change and ‘climategate’ in online reader comments: a mixed methods study

Koteyko, Nelya, Jaspal, Rusi and Nerlich, Brigitte (2013) Climate change and ‘climategate’ in online reader comments: a mixed methods study. Geographical Journal, 179 (1). pp. 74-86. ISSN 0016-7398

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Climate change has rarely been out of the public spotlight in the first decade of this century. The high-profile international meetings and controversies such as ‘climategate’ have highlighted the fact

that it is as much a political issue as it is a scientific one, while also drawing our attention to the role

of social media in reflecting, promoting or resisting such politicisation. In this article, we propose

a framework for analysing one type of social media venue that so far has received little attention

from social scientists – online reader comments. Like media reporting on climate change, reader

comments on this reporting contribute to the diverse, complex and contested discourses on climate

change, and can reveal the meanings and discursive resources brought to the ongoing debate by

laypeople rather than political elites. The proposed framework draws on research in computer-

mediated communication, corpus linguistics and discourse analysis and takes into account both the

content of such ‘lay talk’ and its linguistic characteristics within the specific parameters of the

web-based context. Using word frequencies, qualitative study of co-text and user ratings, we analyse

a large volume of comments published on the UK tabloid newspaper website at two different points

in time – before and after the East Anglia controversy. The results reveal how stereotypes of science

and politics are appropriated in this type of discourse, how readers’ constructions of climate science

have changed after ‘climategate’, and how climate-sceptic arguments are adopted and contested in

computer-mediated peer-to-peer interaction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: N. Koteyko, R. Jaspal & B. Nerlich, Climate change and ‘climategate’ in online reader comments: a mixed methods study, Geographical Journal, 179(1) 2013, which has been published in final form at: This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving'.
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Nerlich, Professor Brigitte
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2014 17:53
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 20:20

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