UBC Sociology PhD student Yasmin Koop-Monteiro recently published a co-authored paper titled, “Animals and climate change: A visual and discourse network analysis of Instagram posts” in Environmental Sociology with UBC Sociology Prof. David Tindall and Memorial University of Newfoundland Sociology Prof. Mark Stoddart.
In this video, Yasmin provides a summary of her research.
Animals featured prominently during the United Nations’ 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP26), both within the meeting and outside during protests. This begs the question: How are animals portrayed in climate change discourse? To answer this question, we conduct visual and discourse network analysis of animal-related Instagram posts collected around COP26. We present a typology of four ways in which animals are framed as (1) metaphors for climate-related concerns, (2) citizens with interests worth respecting, (3) biodiversity or key ecosystem components, and (4) resources for human use, showing how each framing connects to various discourses and organizations/collective actors. Compared to previous research on climate communication, our findings reveal a broader range of animals are integrated into climate change discourse, and humans are often framing animals in multiple ways at once for various eco-political purposes. In addition, our analysis suggests that, compared with other sectors of society, governmental organizations are giving much less attention to animal issues in their climate communications. Finally, our results show how engaging a diversity of perspectives about animals – and eschewing the dominant resource-framing of animals – can enhance climate change discourse by broadening the range of discussions and potential solutions to the current ecological crisis.