Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 101–120 | Cite as

Fracking and framing in transatlantic perspective: a comparison of shale politics in the US and European Union

  • Elizabeth BombergEmail author


This paper offers a transatlantic comparison of shale politics. Both the US and European Union (EU) have ample shale beds; both are high consumption democracies thirsty for plentiful, stable, cheaper sources of energy. Yet exploitation of shale in the US has proceeded at fever pitch, while in the EU development has been hesitant if not stagnant. Structural explanations — geological, geographic, economic, technological — are key to understanding this difference, but so too is the role of agency — who are the actors shaping policy and how do they seek to influence public debate and government agendas? This study, while mindful of structural conditions, applies insights from network and framing analysis to highlight the set of actors, interests and frames that shape shale’s variable development in the US and Europe. Drawing on an in-depth, systematic analysis of news reports, websites and interviews from 2013 to 2015, it demonstrates how differences in shale policy are explained not just by geology, economic or other structural factors, but also by the role of competing pro- and anti-shale networks, and the framing strategies they enjoy. In short, it argues that the interaction of structure and agency best explains transatlantic differences.


shale fracking framing US European Union 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politics and International Relations, School of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of EdinburghEdinburgh, ScotlandUK

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