The discourse of climate change: a corpus-based approach

Reiner Grundmann, Ramesh Krishnamurthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on Goffman’s definition that frames are general ‘schemata of interpretation’ that people use to ‘locate, perceive, identify, and label’, other scholars have used the concept in a more specific way to analyze media coverage. Frames are used in the sense of organizing devices that allow journalists to select and emphasise topics, to decide ‘what matters’ (Gitlin 1980). Gamson and Modigliani (1989) consider frames as being embedded within ‘media packages’ that can be seen as ‘giving meaning’ to an issue. According to Entman (1993), framing comprises a combination of different activities such as: problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. Previous research has analysed climate change with the purpose of testing Downs’s model of the issue attention cycle (Trumbo 1996), to uncover media biases in the US press (Boykoff and Boykoff 2004), to highlight differences between nations (Brossard et al. 2004; Grundmann 2007) or to analyze cultural reconstructions of scientific knowledge (Carvalho and Burgess 2005). In this paper we shall present data from a corpus linguistics-based approach. We will be drawing on results of a pilot study conducted in Spring 2008 based on the Nexis news media archive. Based on comparative data from the US, the UK, France and Germany, we aim to show how the climate change issue has been framed differently in these countries and how this framing indicates differences in national climate change policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-146
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2010


  • Goffman
  • media coverage
  • frames
  • journalists
  • problem definition
  • causal interpretation
  • moral evaluation
  • treatment recommendation for the item described
  • corpus linguistics-based approach
  • comparative data
  • US
  • UK
  • France
  • Germany
  • climate change
  • national climate change policies


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