How social media is shaping the debate on coal seam gas

How Facebook is shaping the debate on coal seam gas

Rather than creating open debate, the opposite appears to be happening with the creation of distinct communities who don’t necessarily meet, mix or tolerate disagreement.

Coal seam gas (CSG) has had a polarising effect in many communities in Australia and around the world.   New research finds that, whilst social media is transforming the way that publics form and meet, its capacity to bridge opposing viewpoints on divisive issues is limited.

Social media and social networking sites such as Facebook are playing an increasingly important role in shaping how CSG is framed and understood in public debate.  

The research is based on an empirical analyses of Facebook pages associated with the controversial Narrabi Gas Project, a proposed CSG project in eastern Australia.    It finds that social media is creating new online “meeting places” for like-minded people.   But despite the supposedly informal nature of Facebook pages, content is very tightly scripted to be on message, is multi-sensory and contrived to appear human and personal.  

Rather than creating open debate, the opposite appears to be happening with the creation of distinct communities who don’t necessarily meet, mix or tolerate disagreement.  

 View the full article at DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2016.1196967

Hendriks C.M., Duus, S. and Ercan S. A. (2016) ‘Performing politics on social media: the dramaturgy of an environmental controversy on Facebook’ Environmental Politics. 

 

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