Framing Climate Change

In one major line of research, I explore how industry and social movement organizations frame climate change, and how the cultural meanings of these messages and the power relationships of the organizations promoting them affect how these messages are received in mainstream media. 

Climate Discourse: Polarized or Post-Political?

In my first paper in this project, I use a variety of automated text analysis procedures to describe a large corpus of business, government, and social advocacy organizations’ framings of climate change. I find this discourse has been largely expert-oriented and technocratic, neglecting concerns of values and identity widely believed to be important for social movement mobilization and politicized identity formation. This finding suggests that businesses and their civil society allies have responded to mounting evidence of climate change by proposing methods to address environmental degradation that simultaneously entrench the economic and political status quo. However, it also opens up questions as to why environmental organizations have similarly adopted a discourse that fails to identify structural sources of the problem, poses several barriers to public engagement, and limits the range of public response. 

This paper was the winner of the 2019 Section on Political Sociology’s Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship for a Paper by a Graduate Student Award.


Wetts, Rachel. 2019. “Models and Morals: Elite-Oriented and Value-Neutral Discourse Dominates American Organizations’ Framings of Climate Change.” Social Forces. Published online:

 © 2018 by Rachel Wetts. 

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