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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Williams, Laurence, Macnaghten, Phil, Davies, Richard & Curtis, Sarah Framing ‘fracking’ Exploring public perceptions of hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom. Public Understanding of Science. 2017;26:89-104.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The prospect of fracking in the United Kingdom has been accompanied by significant public unease. We outline how the policy debate is being framed by UK institutional actors, finding evidence of a dominant discourse in which the policy approach is defined through a deficit model of public understanding of science and in which a technical approach to feasibility and safety is deemed as sufficient grounds for good policymaking. Deploying a deliberative focus group methodology with lay publics across different sites in the north of England, we find that these institutional framings are poorly aligned with participants’ responses. We find that unease regularly overflows the focus on safety and feasibility and cannot be satisfactorily explained by a lack of understanding on the part of participants. We find that scholarship from science and technology studies productively elucidates our participants’ largely sceptical positions, and orientates strategies for responding to them more effectively.

Department of Geography