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Colloque "La médiatisation des "controverses" liées au changement climatique. Regards sociologiques", Maison des Sciences de la Communication, Paris, 20-21 septembre 2010.

Après une analyse de la médiatisation des enjeux climatiques dans différents pays (USA, Inde, UK, France, Allemagne, Suède, etc.), les intervenants discuteront des conditions sociales qui président à la visibilité de certaines controverses dans certains médias. L’enjeu scientifique de ce colloque est de s’interroger sur les manières dont la sociologie des controverses et la sociologie des problèmes publics peuvent s’enrichir mutuellement.
Events over the past year — most notably the Copenhagen conference, controversies over the IPCC, and more recently the Gulf oil spill — have significantly shaped news coverage on climate change, likely marking a new era or stage in the issue’s “narrative cycle”. However, the interpretation of these events and their symbolic power depend on social and historical conditions that give them meaning and relevance. That’s why their impact on changes in news coverage is likely to differ in important ways across national settings.
One of the main differences resides in the quantity as well as content of media attention to controversies on climate change. In France for instance, discordant points of view (scientifically or politically) had little media exposure in the first decade of the years 2000, whereas “climate sceptics” had high public visibility in the US media landscape.
Sociological approaches help to explain these differences. They reveal a) how the climate issue’s “newsworthiness“ depends on the ways relevant social groups are structured and linked together at any given point in time, b) how they successfully access the media, and c) how issue framing is conditioned by the interplay of oft-competing social agendas.
Invited papers will present different case studies or comparisons (US, UK, France, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, India, Brazil…), and endeavour to explain how climate change is “manufactured“ in the media of these countries. They will focus on controversies and seek to better understand when, how, why and where controversies about climate change appeared and moved within different public spaces (media, Internet, books, documentaries, etc.) in the last twenty years. We think this comparative perspective will provide insights into larger patterns as well as specifically national dynamics. It might also help to understand the relevance of controversies to societal decision-making and public understanding.
We propose to structure the conference around the following hypothesis : public problems have distinct “careers” or “trajectories”, and offer more or less space to controversies at different moments. New framings can be explained by changing social configurations of the issue’s “ownership“ (Gusfield), as well as context-dependent and dynamically negotiated relationships between scientists, state agencies, NGOs or journalists. Such an angle invites the crossing of two sociological traditions. First, the sociology of public/social problems studies how facts or situations become problems to be taken in charge by the media, the political field, courts, the educational system, the market, individuals, etc. Second, the sociology of controversies analyses how scientific facts are manufactured and how scientific disagreements, controversies or debates stay confined or circulate in different public arenas.
In the face of recent controversies on climate change (“climategate“), the topic is of high relevance. We thus hope our collective work during one and a half day can advance a common understanding for fruitful questions, approaches, and research agendas.

Programme

Monday 20th September
9h00 Welcome speeches by organisers and representatives from the Climate- Environment-Society consortium and the CNRS Communication Sciences Institute
9h30 An introduction about how political sociology meets media studies for understanding issue definition, public problems and controversies (Pierre LEFÉBURE , Associate Professor in political science and communication at the Political Studies Institute, Bordeaux University)
10h00 The frame contest over climate change in the U.S. media. Exaggerated fears and overlooked impacts (Matthew NISBET, Associate Professor at the School of Communication, American University, Washington D.C.)
10h45 Coffee break
11h15 Mediations of climate change in Portugal. Mapping the links between discourses and social representations of knowledge and risk (Anabela CARVALHO, Associate Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences of the University of Minho in Portugal) 12h00 Consensus, controversies and the construction of climate change as a public problem in France (Stefan AYKUT, Hélène GUILLEMOT and Jean-Baptiste COMBY)
12h45 Lunch
14h30 Climate change skepticism, denial and the swedish media (Marcus CARSON, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Senior Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute)
Marcus will also introduce the Compon project
15h15 Disputed climate science in the media : do countries matter ? (Reiner GRUNDMANN, Senior Researcher at Aston University)
16h00 Coffee break
16h30 United Kingdom media coverage of climate change (Max BOYKOFF, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder)
17h15 How can public problem sociology and controversies sociology help/ complement each other ? (Olivier BAISNEE, Associate Professor at the Political Studies Institute, Toulouse University - To be confirmed)

Tuesday 21th September
9h00 The IPCC between science and politics (Amy DAHAN, Director of Research in History of Science at the CNRS, Centre Alexandre Koyré, CNRS-EHESS)
9h45 Roundtable
What do the media really do to climate change ?
Matthew NISBET, Anabela CARVALHO, Marcus CARSON, Reiner GRUNDMANN, Max BOYKOFF
11h30 Coffee Break
12h00 Conclusions and future prospects
Stefan AYKUT, Jean-Baptiste COMBY, Hélène GUILLEMOT
13h00 End of the meeting

Lieu :
Maison des Sciences de la communication du CNRS
20 rue Berbier-du-Mets
750013 Paris

Organising Committee
Jean-Baptiste COMBY, Associate Professor in Media and Political Sociology at the Institut Français de Presse, CARISM, University of Paris II
Helene GUILLEMOT, Postdoctoral Fellow in Science Studies at the Koyré Center, CNRS
Stefan AYKUT, Doctoral Fellow in Science and Political Sociology at the Koyré Center, CNRS

Contact :
Jean-Baptiste Comby, jbay20@gmail.com, (0033)6.16.81.87.85

Registration :
http://www.gisclimat.fr/controversies_registration_form

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