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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2019

Annika Beelitz and Doris M. Merkl-Davies

The purpose of this paper is to examine a case of companies cooperating with the State to prevent a public controversy over nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine a case of companies cooperating with the State to prevent a public controversy over nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster and achieve mutually beneficial policy outcomes. It analyses the private and public communication of pro-nuclear corporate, political and regulatory actors.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the political economy theory, the study examines how actors mobilised power by accessing an existing social network to agree a joint public communication strategy in order to ensure public support for the continuation of nuclear power generation in the UK. It traces discursive frames from their inception in private communication to their reproduction in public communication and their dissemination via the media.

Findings

The study provides evidence of pro-nuclear actors cooperating behind the scenes to achieve consistent public pro-nuclear messaging. It finds evidence of four discursive frames: avoiding knee-jerk reactions, lessons learned, safety and nuclear renaissance. In combination, they guide audiences’ evaluation of the consequences of the Fukushima disaster for the UK in favour of continuing the commercial use of nuclear energy.

Originality/value

The private e-mail exchange between pro-nuclear actors presents a unique opportunity to examine the mobilisation of less visible forms of power in the form of agenda setting (manipulation) and discursive framing (domination) in order to influence policy outcomes and shape public opinion on nuclear energy. This is problematic because it constitutes a lack of transparency and accountability on part of the State with respect to policy outcomes and restricts the civic space by curtailing the articulation of alternative interests and voices.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2014

Niamh M. Brennan and Doris M. Merkl-Davies

The purpose of this paper is to explore the interactive element in social and environmental reporting during a controversy between business organisations and a stakeholder…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the interactive element in social and environmental reporting during a controversy between business organisations and a stakeholder over environmental performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts Aristotle's triangular framework of the rhetorical situation to examine how the writer, the audience, and the purpose of communication interact in the choice of rhetorical strategies used to persuade others of the validity and legitimacy of a claim during a public controversy. The analysis focuses on the strategies (i.e. moves and their rhetorical realisations) in the form of logos (appealing to logic), ethos (appealing to authority), and pathos (appealing to emotion), with a particular emphasis on metaphor, used to achieve social and political goals. The authors base the analysis on a case study involving a conflict between Greenpeace and six organisations in the sportswear/fashion industry over wastewater discharge of hazardous chemicals. The conflict played out in a series of 20 press releases issued by the parties over a two-month period.

Findings

All six firms interacting with Greenpeace in the form of press releases eventually conceded to Greenpeace's demand to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chains. The paper attributes this to Greenpeace's ability to harness support from other key stakeholders and to use rhetoric effectively. Results show the extensive use of rhetoric by all parties.

Originality/value

The authors regard legitimacy construction as reliant on communication and as being achieved by organisations participating in a dialogue with stakeholders. For this purpose, the paper develops an analytical framework which situates environmental reporting in a specific rhetorical situation and links rhetoric, argument, and metaphor.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2020

Matthew Russell Scobie, Markus J. Milne and Tyron Rakeiora Love

This paper explores diverse practices of the giving and demanding of democratic accountability within a case of conflict around deep-sea petroleum exploration in Aotearoa…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores diverse practices of the giving and demanding of democratic accountability within a case of conflict around deep-sea petroleum exploration in Aotearoa New Zealand. These practices include submissions and consultations, partnership between Indigenous Peoples and a settler-colonial government and dissensus. These are theorised through the political thought of Jacques Rancière.

Design/methodology/approach

A single case study approach is employed that seeks to particularise and draws on interview, documentary and media materials.

Findings

By examining a case of conflict, the authors find that as opportunities for participation in democratic accountability processes are eroded, political dissensus emerges to demand parts in the accountability process. Dissensus creates counter forums within a wider understanding of democratic accountability. In this case, individuals and organisations move between police (where hierarchy counts those with a part) and politics (exercised when this hierarchy is disrupted by dissensus) to demand parts as police logics become more and less democratic. These parts are then utilised towards particular interests, but in this case to also create additional parts for those with none.

Originality/value

This study privileges demands for accountability through dissensus as fundamental to democratic accountability, rather than just account giving and receiving. That is, who is or who is not included – who has a stake or a part – is crucial in a broader understanding of democratic accountability. This provides democratic accountability with a radical potential for creating change. The study also advances thinking on democratic accountability by drawing from Indigenous perspectives and experiences in a settler-colonial context.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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