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Change but no climate change: discourses of climate change in corporate social responsibility reporting in the oil industry

Jaworska, S. (2018) Change but no climate change: discourses of climate change in corporate social responsibility reporting in the oil industry. International Journal of Business Communication, 55 (2). pp. 194-219. ISSN 2329-4884

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/2329488417753951


Using corpus linguistic tools and methods, this paper investigates the discourses of climate change in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental reports produced by major oil companies from 2000 to 2013. It focuses on the frequency of key references to climatic changes and examines in detail discourses surrounding the most frequently used term ‘climate change’. The analysis points to shifting patterns in the ways in which climate change has been discursively constructed in the studied sample. Whereas in the mid-2000s, it was seen as a phenomenon that something could be done about, in recent years the corporate discourse has increasingly emphasised the notion of risk portraying climate change as an unpredictable agent. A pro-active stance signalled by the use of force metaphors is offset by a distancing strategy often indicated through the use of hedging devices and ‘relocation’ of climate change to the future and other stakeholders. In doing so, the discourse obscures the sector’s large contribution to environmental degradation and ‘grooms’ the public perception to believe that the industry actively engages in climate change mitigation. At the methodological level, this study shows how a combination of quantitative corpus-linguistic and qualitative discourse-analytical techniques can offer insights into the existence of salient discursive patterns and contribute to a better understanding of the role of language in performing ideological work in corporate communications.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:74388
Uncontrolled Keywords:climate change, discourse analysis, corporate social responsibility, collocation, oil industry


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