Policy Sciences

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 195–215

The narrative properties of ideology: the adversarial turn and climate skepticism in the USA

Research Article

Abstract

A central concern in policy studies is understanding how multiple, contending groups in society interact, deliberate, and forge agreements over policy issues. Often, public discourse turns from engagement into impasse, as in the fractured politics of climate policy in the USA. Existing theories are unclear about how such an “adversarial turn” develops. We theorize that an important aspect of the adversarial turn is the evolution of a group’s narrative into what can be understood as an ideology, the formation of which is observable through certain textual-linguistic properties. Analysis “of” these narrative properties elucidates the role of narrative in fostering (1) coalescence around a group ideology, and (2) group isolation and isolation of ideological coalitions from others’ influence. By examining a climate skeptical narrative, we demonstrate how to analyze ideological properties of narrative, and illustrate the role of ideological narratives in galvanizing and, subsequently, isolating groups in society. We end the piece with a reflection on further issues suggested by the narrative analysis, such as the possibility that climate skepticism is founded upon a more “genetic” meta-narrative that has roots in social issues far removed from climate, which means efforts at better communicating climate change science may not suffice to support action on climate change.

Keywords

Climate policy Ideology Policy process 

References

  1. Bakhtin, M. (1981). The dialogic imagination (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barthes, R. (1974). S/Z: An essay (R. Miller, Trans.). New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  3. Bohr, J. (2016). The ‘climatism’ cartel: Why climate change deniers oppose market-based mitigation policy. Environmental Politics, 25, 812–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boswell, J. (2013). Why and how narrative matters in deliberative systems. Political Studies, 61(3), 620–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bousallis, C., & Coan, T. G. (2016). Text-mining the signals of climate change doubt. Global Environmental Change, 36(2016), 89–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Busenberg, G. J. (1999). Collaborative and adversarial analysis in environmental policy. Policy Sciences, 32(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chandler, D. (2007). Semiotics for beginners (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Detraz, N., & Betsill, M. M. (2009). Climate change and environmental security: For whom the discourse shifts. International Studies Perspectives, 10(3), 303–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dodge, J., & Lee, J. (2015). Framing dynamics and political gridlock: The curious case of hydraulic fracturing in New York. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning. doi:10.1080/1523908X.2015.1116378.Google Scholar
  10. Dryzek, J. S., & Stevenson, H. (2014). Democratizing global climate governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dunlap, E. E., & McCright, A. M. (2015). Challenging climate change: The denial countermovement. In R. E. Dunlap & R. J. Brulle (Eds.), Climate change and society: Sociological perspectives (pp. 1–49). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199356102.003.0010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunlap, R., McCright, A., & Yarosh, J. (2016). The political divide on climate change: Partisan polarization widens in the U.S. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 58(5), 4–23.Google Scholar
  13. Enriquez, L. E. (2014). Undocumented and citizen students unite: Building a cross-status coalition through shared ideology. Social Problems, 61(2), 155–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Farrell, J. (2016). Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 113, 92–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Field, C. B. et al. (2014). Summary for policymakers. Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: Global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, pp. 1–32.Google Scholar
  16. Fletcher, A. L. (2009). Clearing the air: The contribution of frame analysis to understanding climate policy in the United States. Environmental Politics, 18(5), 800–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gieve, J., & Provost, C. (2012). Ideas and coordination in policymaking: The financial crisis of 2007–2009. Governance, 25(1), 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grafton, C., & Permaloff, A. (2005a). The behavioral study of political ideology and public policy formulation. The Social Science Journal, 42(2), 201–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grafton, C., & Permaloff, A. (2005b). Liberal and conservative dissensus in areas of domestic public policy other than business and economics. Policy Sciences, 38(1), 45–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gubrium, J. F. (2005). Introduction: Narrative environments and social problems. Social Problems, 52(4), 525–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hajer, M. A. (1995). The politics of environmental discourse: ecological modernization and the policy process. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hampton, G. (2009). Narrative policy analysis and the integration of public involvement in decision making. Policy Sciences, 42(3), 227–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Howlett, M., & Rayner, J. (2006). Understanding the historical turn in the policy sciences: A critique of stochastic, narrative, path dependency and process-sequencing models of policy-making over time. Policy Sciences, 39(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ingram, M., Ingram, H., & Lejano, R. (2015). Environmental action in the anthropocene: The power of narrative networks. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning. doi:10.1080/1523908X.2015.1113513.Google Scholar
  25. Ingram, H., & Schneider, A. (2015). Making distinctions: The social construction of target populations. In F. Fischer et al. (Eds.), Handbook of critical policy studies (pp. 259–273). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  26. Jacques, P. J. (2009). Environmental skepticism: Ecology, power and public life. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Jagers, S. C., & Stripple, J. (2003). Climate governance beyond the State. Global Governance, 9(3), 385–400.Google Scholar
  28. Jamieson, K. H., & Cappella, J. N. (2008). Echo chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the conservative media establishment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Jasny, L., Waggle, J., & Fisher, D. R. (2015). An empirical examination of echo chambers in US climate policy networks. Nature Climate Change, 5(2015), 782–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kristeva, J. (1980). Desire in language: A semiotic approach to literature and art. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Laws, D., & Forester, J. (2007). Learning in practice: Public policy mediation. Critical Policy Analysis, 1(4), 342–370.Google Scholar
  32. Lejano, R., Ingram, M., & Ingram, H. (2013). The power of narrative in environmental networks. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lejano, R., & Leong, C. (2012). A hermeneutic approach to explaining and understanding public controversies. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 22(4), 793–814.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lejano, R., & Park, S. J. (2015). The autopoietic text. In F. Fischer et al. (Eds.), Handbook of critical policy studies (pp. 274–296). Cheltenham: Elgar Press.Google Scholar
  35. Lejano, R., & Taufen Wessells, A. (2006). Community and economic development: Seeking common ground in discourse and in practice. Urban Studies, 43(9), 1469–1489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Leong, C. (2015). A quantitative investigation of narratives: Recycled drinking water. Water Policy, 17(5), 831–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lutzenhiser, L. (2001). The contours of US climate non-policy. Society & Natural Resources, 14(6), 511–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mannheim, K. (1936). Ideology and Utopia (L. Wirth & E. Shils, Trans.). San Diego: Harvest-Harcourt Brace, 1985, p. 263.Google Scholar
  39. McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2003). Defeating Kyoto: The conservative movement’s impact on US climate change policy. Social Problems, 50(3), 348–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2010). Anti-reflexivity the American conservative movement’s success in undermining climate science and policy. Theory, Culture & Society, 27(2–3), 100–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McCright, M. M., Marquart-Pyatt, S. T., Shwom, R. L., Brechin, S. R., & Allen, S. (2016). Ideology, capitalism, and climate: Explaining public views about climate change in the United States. Energy Research & Social Science, 21(2016), 180–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mumby, D. K. (1987). The political function of narrative in organizations. Communications Monographs, 54(2), 113–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Oels, A. (2005). Rendering climate change governable: From biopower to advanced liberal government?”. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 7(3), 185–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Oreskes, N. (2004). The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, 306(5702), 1686–1686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pahl-Wostl, C. (2009). A conceptual framework for analysing adaptive capacity and multi-level learning processes in resource governance regimes. Global Environmental Change, 19, 354–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pettinger, M. (Ed.). (2007). Power, knowledge and the social construction of climate change: Power, knowledge, norms, discourses. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  47. Polletta, F. (1998). “It was like a fever…” Narrative and identity in social protest. Social Problems, 45(2), 137–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Potts, B. H., & Zoppo, D. R. (2014). Is the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan legal. Regulation, 37(Winter), 10.Google Scholar
  49. Popper, K. R. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  50. Propp, V. (1968). Morphology of the folktale (2nd ed.) (Laurence Scott, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  51. Rabe, B. G. (2007). Beyond Kyoto: Climate change policy in multilevel governance systems. Governance, 20(3), 423–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rabe, B. G. (2010). Greenhouse governance: Addressing climate change in America. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  53. Rayner, S. (2012). Uncomfortable knowledge: The social construction of ignorance in science and environmental policy discourses. Economy and Society, 41(1), 107–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Repetto, R. (2001). The Clean Development Mechanism: Institutional breakthrough or institutional nightmare. Policy Sciences, 34(3–4), 303–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rhodes, R. A. W. (1990). Policy networks: A British perspective. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2(1990), 293–317. doi:10.1177/0951692890002003003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ricoeur, P. (1981). Hermeneutics and the human sciences: Essays on language, action and interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rietig, K. (2016). The links among contested knowledge, beliefs, and learning in European climate governance: From consensus to conflict in reforming biofuels policy. Policy Studies Journal. doi:10.1111/psj.12169.Google Scholar
  58. Roe, E. (1994). Narrative policy analysis: Theory and practice. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sabatier, P. A. (1988). An advocacy coalition framework of policy change and the role of policy-oriented learning therein. Policy Sciences, 21(2–3), 129–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sargent, L. (2009). Contemporary political ideologies: A comparative analysis. Independence, KY: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  61. Sartori, G. (1969). Politics, ideology, and belief systems. American Political Science Review, 63, 398–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schön, D., & Rein, M. (1994). Frame reflection: Toward the resolution of intractable policy controversies. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  63. Stone, D. A. (1989). Causal stories and the formation of policy agendas. Political Science Quarterly, 104(2), 281–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Susskind, L., McKearnan, S., & Thomas-Larmer, J. (1999). The consensus building handbook. A comprehensive guide to reaching agreement. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  65. Thatchenkery, T. J. (1992). Organizations as ‘texts’: Hermeneutics as a model for understanding organizational change. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 6, 197–233.Google Scholar
  66. Warren, M., & Mansbridge, J. (2013). Deliberative negotiation. In J. Mansbridge & C. Martin (Eds.), Negotiating agreement in politics (pp. 86–120). Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.Google Scholar
  67. Weick, K. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Public Administration and PolicyUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations