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A Study of Fracking Using YouTube Videos

Authors: Jaspal, R., Turner, A., & Nerlich, B. (2014). Fracking on YouTube: Exploring Risks, Benefits and Human Values. Environmental Values

Fracking or the extraction of shale gas through hydraulic fracturing of rock has become a contested topic, especially in the United States, where it has been deployed on a large scale, and in Europe where it is still largely speculative. Research is beginning to investigate the environmental and economic costs and benefits as well as public perceptions of this new energy technology. However, so far the social and psychological impact of fracking on those involved in it, such as gas workers, or those living in the vicinity of fracking sites, has escaped the attention of the social science research community.

In this article we begin to fill this gap through a small-scale thematic analysis of representations of fracking in fifty YouTube videos, where the trailer of a controversial film, Gasland (Fox, 2010), has had a marked impact. Results show that the videos discuss not only environmental and economic costs and benefits of fracking but also social and psychological impacts on individuals and communities.

These videos reveal a human face of fracking that remains all too often hidden from view.

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