Representation of Dominant Ideologies Regarding Climate Change: An Emotion-Based Analysis of Speeches by Greta Thunberg and Naomi Seibt
Vilsteren, M.M. van
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As the effects of emotion-based communication have been barely studied in the field of climate change research, this thesis aims at reducing the knowledge gap. To examine in what way dominant ideologies regarding climate change are represented or constructed by emotion-based communication strategies, two case studies were analysed. Based on a combination of the paralinguistic methods FACS and EMFACS, speeches by climate-activist Greta Thunberg and climate-realist Naomi Seibt were examined. The two coding methods provided insights in the emotions that were expressed by the two speakers during their speeches. Results showed that Thunberg expressed the emotions anger and surprise most often during her speech, whereas Seibt expressed more happiness and pride. To continue, the dominant ideologies of the audiences concerning climate change were analysed using contextual analysis. It was estimated that Thunberg’s audience shared two dominant ideologies regarding climate change; one that believed in the human cause of climate change, and the other that considered nature to be the cause. Seibt’s audience was found to mainly reject the idea of human-involvement. Feminist media analysis was then used to study the relationship between emotional discourses and patterns of themes present in the speeches. The pattern analysis revealed that Thunberg addressed her audience to act on climate change, while Seibt used her speech to ensure her audience that human-involvement will not do anything to improve the climate as it is naturally caused. The emotions that both expressed were found to substantiate the pattern analyses. Anger and surprise appeared to be emotions that are known for morally motivating individuals and that help to spread messages. Pride and happiness, on the other hand, are recognized to increase perseverance and work performance. Compared to the dominant ideologies in Thunberg’s audience, Thunberg tried to construct a new dominant ideology. Emotions that help spread the message and motivate the audience are thus crucial to Thunberg successfully conveying a new ideology. Seibt reinforced an already existing ideology by claiming that climate change is naturally caused. She did not need to convince her audience, but rather needed them to stick to their current beliefs. Increasing perseverance and work performance could help her audience to keep addressing climate change in politics the way they did before the speech. The expressed emotions have thus enabled the speakers to address their audiences based on the audiences’ dominant ideologies.