CSTPR Noontime Seminar: The Contrarian Discourse in the Blogosphere - What are blogs good for anyway?
CSTPR Noontime Seminar
Fall 2012 Series
Thursdays 12:00 - 1:00 PM
The Communications-Policy Nexus
Media, messages, and decision making
* Tuesday September 11, 2012
THE CONTRARIAN DISCOURSE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: WHAT ARE BLOGS GOOD FOR ANYWAY?
by Franziska Hollender, Institute for Social Studies of Science, University of Vienna
CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue
Free and open to the public
The media serve to inform, entertain, educate and provide a basis for discussion among people. While traditional media such as print newspapers are facing a slow decline, they are being outpaced by new media that add new dimensions to public communication with interactivity being the most striking one. In the context of climate change, one question has arisen from recent events: what to do with the contrarians? Some propose that the contrarian discourse is merely an annoying sideshow, while others think that it is science's responsibility to fight them. Blogs, being fairly unrestricted and highly interactive, serve as an important platform for contrarian viewpoints, and they are increasingly permeating multiple media spheres.
Using the highly ranked blog 'Watts up with that' as a case study, discourse analysis of seven posts including almost 1600 user comments reveals that blogs are able to unveil components and purposes of the contrarian discourse that traditional media are not. They serve as extended peer communities as put forth by post-normal science, however, blog users themselves do not see post-normal science as a desirable goal. Furthermore, avowals of distrust can be seen as linguistic perfomances of accountability, forcing science to prove its reliability and integrity over and over again. Finally, it is concluded that the climate change discourse has been stifled by the obsession of discussing the science basis and that in order to advance the discourse, there needs to be a change in how science as an ideology is communicated and enacted.