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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Janet Su

University of Lausanne, Switzerland

How do organizations threatened by deinstitutionalisation communicate to regain their legitimacy and delegitimise their critics?

 

Abstract

Climate change denialists have been particularly successful in using narratives to spread doubt around the existence of a climate change crisis. Our paper uses a mixed-method narrative analysis approach to study how climate change denialists communicate, particularly through documentaries. Documentaries are an effective medium not only to entertain audiences, but to simultaneously educate and/or mobilize audiences for collective action. In this study, we demonstrate how denialists use emotions to gain legitimacy while delegitimizing critics. A process of amplifying negative emotions and juxtaposing negative and positive emotions has been used. We contribute to the deinstitutionalization literature by identifying the role that emotions play in the communication of firms under threat. We also find evidence of how positive and negative emotions can work together to create new forms of emotional energy.

Janet Su

Janet Su