How Controversial Industries Manage Social Stigma: Evidence from Hydraulic Fracturing

Thursday, Apr 26, 2018 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA

The practice of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") has revolutionized energy markets over the past decade. At the same time, it has also generated wave of social movement activism, critical films, books, and articles, and a substantial volume of critical public discourse. How do industry groups make use of strategic communications to respond to these stigmatizing challenges and also to counter the threat of local fracking bans and moratoria? When do such groups attempt to "spin" discourse positively versus engage in negative counter-attacks.

Edward Walker explores how leading pro-fracking industry associations in the Marcellus Shale area of the northeastern U.S. have made efforts to counter their challengers in the public sphere. Utilizing large-scale data on anti-fracking protests, the documentary Gasland, and a range of other sources, Walker illustrates the volume, topics, and tone of industry communications shift when faced with distinct threats, as well as what political impact these communications may have.

Light refreshments will be served. RSVP is requested.