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Lessons from the Framing Contest over UK Shale Development

Impotence and Austerity in Environmental Politics

Laurence Williams


The framing of shale gas development has received widespread attention, especially in the UK, United States, and throughout Europe. However, little has been said about what lessons can be learned from the shale development case about the role of language in use in the construction, contestation and closure of environmental problems. This article teases out and clarifies the subtle variations in the way the concept of the “frame” has been interpreted and operationalized; puts forward an analysis of the difficulty of achieving discursive closure in the UK shale development policy debate; and identifies possible implications of the failure of the “bridging fuel” argument for environmental discourse more broadly, asking in particular if this failure represents a challenge to ecological modernization or its continuation.