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Front. Commun. | doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00005

Debating Hydrofracking: The Dialogical Construction of Risk

  • 1Syracuse University, United States

This study examines a debate among experts sponsored by Cornell University in 2014 on whether or not to allow hydrofracking in New York State. The focus is on the question-answer portion of the debate to see how risk is discursively constructed from experts’ claims and rejoinders as well as audience participation. The granular methodology of discursive analysis is used to examine how risk gets talked into being and amplified or mitigated through interaction in the question-answer portion of the debate. Risk gets constructed through participants’ practices of metadiscourse - how they formulate what has been said, report the speech or actions of others, or repeat certain locutions into lists for rhetorical effect. These metadiscourse practices provide a resource for the debater to critically characterize other’s words or deeds prior to presenting their preferred position.

Keywords: Hydrofracking, risk, discursive analysis, environmental conflict, debate, Experts

Received: 18 Jun 2018; Accepted: 28 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Tracylee Clarke, California State University, Channel Islands, United States

Reviewed by:

Jen Schneider, Boise State University, United States
Cristi C. Horton, Tarleton State University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Buttny. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Richard Buttny, Syracuse University, Syracuse, United States, rbuttny@syr.edu