Study four: Strategies for more democratic media

This two-year study begins in 2026, co-led by M.V. Ramana and Susan O’Donnell with student research assistants in two universities, and all team members are invited to participate.

The study goal is to develop strategies for climate activists to engage more effectively to counter hegemonic discourses about energy transitions.

The study will include semi-structured interviews with mainstream journalists to understand how they view the contesting discourses for energy transitions and why they are challenged to include more alternate perspectives to deal with the climate crisis.

With this new data, and a fresh analysis of the results of all the previous studies, we will develop strategies and products shared freely online to help activists work more effectively with media to fight for climate justice.

Among the theories explaining how social movements use media to promote their messages, Alberto Melucci’s highly cited early work (1) argues that social movements can reverse the dominant symbolic order through their alternative use of symbolic codes. Following Melucci’s theory, the work produced by the team including climate activist and Indigenous collaborators, in participatory action research and knowledge mobilization activities, will potentially have many outcomes.

Contesting the dominant discourses and promoting climate justice discourses will have the power to: maintain and grow the capacity of climate activists and Indigenous leaders to articulate the messages they consider important; legitimize the broader climate justice movement within the larger society; enable the public and political actors to receive the climate justice messages more clearly, and contribute to a more democratic media environment.

(1) Melucci, A. (1996). Challenging codes: Collective action in the information age. Cambridge University Press.

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