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Moonwalking through late-stage capitalism : on post-truth, Facebook, and the struggle over science

Jaques, Cecilia LU (2018) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20181
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Contrary to what practice suggests, social media platforms may not be an appropriate forum for communicating with civil society about sustainability issues. It is common knowledge that fake news and misinformation campaigns are distorting the line between fact and falsity on social media platforms. Complicating this arrangement, these circumstances are the backdrop of a wider distrust of expert opinion and retreat into emotional decision-making popularly labelled as post-truth. Nevertheless, communicating scientific information within these spaces relies largely on an information deficit model through a strategy of countering ‘fake news’ with ‘real facts’ which under the conditions of post-truth fails to capture the extent of the problem.... (More)
Contrary to what practice suggests, social media platforms may not be an appropriate forum for communicating with civil society about sustainability issues. It is common knowledge that fake news and misinformation campaigns are distorting the line between fact and falsity on social media platforms. Complicating this arrangement, these circumstances are the backdrop of a wider distrust of expert opinion and retreat into emotional decision-making popularly labelled as post-truth. Nevertheless, communicating scientific information within these spaces relies largely on an information deficit model through a strategy of countering ‘fake news’ with ‘real facts’ which under the conditions of post-truth fails to capture the extent of the problem. Drawing from Neo-Marxian theory, I argue post-truth can be explained as a new iteration of ideological struggle under capitalist hegemony. I adopt a critical position on the nature of ideology which I position as a set of lived relations involved in the establishment and maintenance of domination. I substantiate this claim through a mixed methods investigation synthesizing corpus-assisted lexical analysis and critical discourse analysis to evaluate 900 user generated comments taken from three articles on socio-environmental topics published to Facebook by news organizations in the United States. My results show that the nature of this struggle is tied explicitly to the role of science in society where the legitimacy of science is caught in a tug-of-war of values between elitism on the one hand and a rejection of the establishment on the other. Furthermore, through an investigation of the discourse practice I uncover that the discursive and non-discursive roots of hegemony are mediating discussion on the world’s largest social media platform. It follows that presenting truthful information in place of false information is an insufficient means for coping with post-truth. I offer three potential pathways forward in the context of pressing social and environmental challenges. Specifically, I advocate for a counter-hegemony which acknowledges that the question of whether truth matters is a question of values and conclude by problematizing the notion that Facebook is an adequate forum for public dialogue and advocate for a change in the material conditions upholding unequal power relations. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Jaques, Cecilia LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
post-truth, ideology, hegemony, science communication, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
007
language
English
id
8950306
date added to LUP
2018-06-16 12:44:19
date last changed
2019-03-05 08:44:39
@misc{8950306,
  abstract     = {Contrary to what practice suggests, social media platforms may not be an appropriate forum for communicating with civil society about sustainability issues. It is common knowledge that fake news and misinformation campaigns are distorting the line between fact and falsity on social media platforms. Complicating this arrangement, these circumstances are the backdrop of a wider distrust of expert opinion and retreat into emotional decision-making popularly labelled as post-truth. Nevertheless, communicating scientific information within these spaces relies largely on an information deficit model through a strategy of countering ‘fake news’ with ‘real facts’ which under the conditions of post-truth fails to capture the extent of the problem. Drawing from Neo-Marxian theory, I argue post-truth can be explained as a new iteration of ideological struggle under capitalist hegemony. I adopt a critical position on the nature of ideology which I position as a set of lived relations involved in the establishment and maintenance of domination. I substantiate this claim through a mixed methods investigation synthesizing corpus-assisted lexical analysis and critical discourse analysis to evaluate 900 user generated comments taken from three articles on socio-environmental topics published to Facebook by news organizations in the United States. My results show that the nature of this struggle is tied explicitly to the role of science in society where the legitimacy of science is caught in a tug-of-war of values between elitism on the one hand and a rejection of the establishment on the other. Furthermore, through an investigation of the discourse practice I uncover that the discursive and non-discursive roots of hegemony are mediating discussion on the world’s largest social media platform. It follows that presenting truthful information in place of false information is an insufficient means for coping with post-truth. I offer three potential pathways forward in the context of pressing social and environmental challenges. Specifically, I advocate for a counter-hegemony which acknowledges that the question of whether truth matters is a question of values and conclude by problematizing the notion that Facebook is an adequate forum for public dialogue and advocate for a change in the material conditions upholding unequal power relations.},
  author       = {Jaques, Cecilia},
  keyword      = {post-truth,ideology,hegemony,science communication,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Moonwalking through late-stage capitalism : on post-truth, Facebook, and the struggle over science},
  year         = {2018},
}