Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Culloty, E., Murphy, P.,Brereton, P., Suiter, J., Smeaton, A. & Zhang, D.,
Environmental Communication
Researching Visual Representations of Climate Change
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Optional Fields
visual analysis, climate change, environmental communication, semiotics
This paper responds to Schaffer et al.’s (2016) call for greater clarity about the application of theory and method in research on mediated communication about climate-change. Specifically, it identifies conceptual and methodological challenges for researching visual representations of climate change. We suggest current research is impeded by a lack of methodological explication and an unclear relationship between theories of visual meaning and the application of social science methods such as content analysis and frame analysis. As a first step towards addressing these issues, we review existing research to identify the methodological procedures that require explication in order to support the replication of studies and the comparison of findings. We then draw on the seminal work of Roland Barthes’ (1967, 1977) to examine how theories of visual meaning may be integrated into social-scientific research methods. Specifically, we demonstrate how Barthes’ concepts of denotation, connotation and mythology may be related to research concerns about the selection of visual content, the classification of image frames, audience responses, and analyses of ideological meaning. The conclusion highlights further possibilities for developing a robust form of visual analysis that meets the standards of social scientific research while addressing the fundamental insights about visual meaning derived from cultural theories of meaning.
Grant Details
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)