Universität Mannheim / PhilFak / RSC / Forschergruppen / Cultures of Sustainability / Project 2: Comparing Public Debates on Sustainable Restructuring (Kristina John)

Project 2: Comparing Public Debates on Sustainable Restructuring

Project Director: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Wessler
Research Associate: Kristina John

This project will compare media coverage on climate change in general as well as on proposals for institutional innovations aiming at sustainable restructuring around the world. For this purpose, an inventory of debates on climate politics since 1980 will be generated using existing media content databases.

Based on this first step particular debates on specific proposals for institutional innovation will be analyzed more deeply in the second phase. This includes the proposals to install ombudspersons for future generations with veto rights in law-making processes such as those previously discussed in Hungary, Israel, Germany, and New Zealand as well as the respective discussions in other countries and on the level of the United Nations.

Furthermore, this analysis also focuses on individual reform debates as derived from the world-wide inventory. Using a framing approach informed by argumentation theory (cf. Entmann, 2004; Matthes & Kohring, 2008; Gerhards, Offerhaus  Roose, 2007) problem definitions, attributions of causality and responsibility, policy positions, and justifications found in media debates on such reform proposals will be re-constructed. Thereby, this project will provide the necessary knowledge for Project 1 ("Justifications for sustainable institutions") on the functioning of public debates concerning institutional reform. This will help to identify effective strategies of argumentation.

Finally, the project will provide explanations for the distinctness of media coverage and climate debates by systematically comparing countries with high and low problem involvement (i.e., high/low level of historic responsibility and current vulnerability as well as with a strong and weak tradition of climate skeptical positions.