Shale gas debate in Europe: Pro-and-con dialectics and argumentative polylogues

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In this article I scrutinise a crucial tension in understanding the debate over shale gas production in Europe. On the one hand, analyses predominantly grasp the debate in terms of pro-andcon dialectics, as if the pro-shale gas camp faced the anti-shale gas camp in a dyadic clash of opposing voices. On the other hand, it is commonly recognised that this debate is driven by multi-party and multi-position argumentative dynamics. In this broader context, I focus on one pivotal contribution to the debate – Gazprom’s press release from October 2013 outlining Russia’s energy giant’s strategy of dealing with unconventional gas production. I employ concepts and methods of argumentative discourse analysis to contend that an arguer to a multi-party debate – argumentative polylogue – faces a number of constraints and opportunities that cannot be adequately grasped in terms of dyadic pro-and-con dialectics. The analysis reveals how Gazprom needs to simultaneously design its discourse to address a number of other parties who might also disagree among themselves: from Greenpeace to European Union governments to shale gas companies. I show why and how a stakeholder analysis used in organisational communication might lead to a better understanding of this form of multi-party public argumentation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553–575
Number of pages22
JournalDiscourse & Communication
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Argumentation
  • Climate change
  • Dialectics
  • Energy policy
  • Fracking Gazprom
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Polylogue
  • Shale gas
  • Stakeholder analysis


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