University of Twente Student Theses


The Public Debate on Natural Gas Extraction in Groningen: A Shift of Framing and its Regulatory Consequences

Voortman, T.P.G. (2019) The Public Debate on Natural Gas Extraction in Groningen: A Shift of Framing and its Regulatory Consequences.

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Abstract:This thesis reconstructs how the issue of gas extraction in Groningen was framed in the Dutch public debate prior to the 2018 decision to gradually reduce gas extraction to zero by 2030, which was an important decisions as it offered opportunities for the Netherlands to move away from fossil fuels towards cleaner forms of energy and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, agreed upon by the European Member States in the Paris Agreement. As the media presents the public debate, in which all kinds of actors shape public opinion, it provides insights about the government’s decisions to terminate gas extraction in Groningen. In order to investigate the framing in the public debate, this thesis conducted a frame analysis of in total 70 newspaper articles in the media peaks of the quality newspapers de Volkskrant and NRC Handelsblad published from 2009 to 2017 with a set of five generic frames produced by Semetko and Valkenburg (2000) and five specific frames based on the theory of Dodge and Lee (2015) and Metze (2017). Moreover, the agenda-setting theory of Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Framework was used to explain how the story caught the attention and developed into an issue. The results demonstrated that the framing of gas extraction in Groningen shifted from ‘business as usual’ to a ‘human and environmental risk’. The story was increasingly framed as an issue as (1) the problem indicators of the gas extraction were emphasised (problem stream), (2) there was reference made to immorality, injustice and responsibility was attributed to actors (political stream), (3) a technically and morally acceptable solution was promoted (policy stream) and (4) it was championed by all sorts of actors (Kingdon, 2003). The story was reframed into an issue by all sorts of actors and there appeared a shift in the national mood (Kingdon, 2003), which influenced the government’s decision to terminate the gas extraction in 2018. Moreover, there was an increase in media attention for the issue, which put more pressure on politicians to act (Baumgartner and Jones, 2009). The research implication of this thesis is that framing typologies and Kingdon’s Multiple Stream’s Framework provide valuable insights into analysing framing in the public debate. Additionally, the social implication of this thesis is that there should be awareness of framing processes by all kind of actors and audiences, as it has implications for decision-making. In order to provide a better understanding of the frames in the public debate on gas extraction in the media, future research should investigate all the available articles from newspapers and other media outlets from 2009 to 2017.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general, 71 sociology, 88 social and public administration, 89 political science
Programme:European Studies MSc (69303)
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