AVLYST: Climate Change and Post-Political Communication
Phil Hammond (London South Bank University) speaks about communication, climate change, and post-politics.
As several critics have noted, climate change has become mainstreamed as a ‘post-political’ issue in recent years. Analysts of the post-political have criticised media research agendas which simply encourage greater consensus, and have instead called for more attention to be paid to the ways in which the media may either promote de-politicisation or work to politicise the issue of climate change. Examples from political rhetoric, celebrity campaigning and news media framings of climate change confirm that particular constructions of the issue do indeed tend to depoliticise it, whether in terms of moral certainty, personal lifestyle choices or consensus agreement.
Yet attempts to construct a more radical, politicising appeal – through a more properly ecological humility toward nature, a more pronounced anti-consumerism, or a more emotionally-charged mode of address – tend to make matters worse. In practice, greater ‘radicalism’ also means greater anti-modernism, cutting away the ground of the political agency it ostensibly seeks to promote. It may simply be mistaken to assume that there was once a radical core in environmental politics that can be recaptured or reignited so as to overcome the problem of the post-political. Perhaps the greatest mistake in this respect is the idea that greater emotionalism will provide the answer to the post-political condition. In today’s circumstances, such emotional appeals tend to further reinforce a therapeutic outlook that encourages us to understand politics in terms of a project of the self rather than changing the world.
Phil Hammond's visit is an initiative of the ENCODE research network at ISK/HSL.