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Risk Society and Anti-Politics in the Fracking Debate

Frances Drake ()
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Frances Drake: School of Geography, Faculty of Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

Social Sciences, 2018, vol. 7, issue 11, 1-22

Abstract: Fracking in the United Kingdom has yet to reach full industrial development, but it is still subject to significant opposition. This study uses Beck’s risk society theory and anti-politics to examine the views voiced by opponents to fracking in Yorkshire, England. A qualitative approach was used. Semi-structured interviews with protesters and local newspaper reports were evaluated to provide a thematic analysis. The study drew upon discourse analysis and framing literature to reveal discourses within the interviews. Although there are signs of post-materialist concerns with the environment, these issues did not dominate the discussion. Scientists were not held responsible for the risks involved in fracking. Instead, the economic greediness of politicians and austerity measures were perceived as putting the environment and human health at risk. Interviewees thought fossil fuel energy production was economically advantaged over more sustainable energy and jobs in the low carbon economy. Protesters’ trust in politicians had been eroded, but faith in democracy remained. It is argued that the consensual post-politics of risk society have not led to a reinvigoration of democratic debate. Instead anti-politics have taken place, due to the frustration of citizens. Protesters wanted a citizen-led deliberative approach to the concerns raised. Such a process would have to go beyond the consensual, and recognise the inherently agonistic process of democracy if it is to succeed.

Keywords: fracking; risk society; anti-politics; climate change; post-politics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A B N P Y80 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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