Title: Reconciling energy and the environment: emerging webgenres in the oil industry

Authors: Fanny Domenec

Addresses: Université Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV CeLiSo (EA 7332)/Université Panthéon Assas Paris 2, Pôle langues Université Paris 2, 92 rue d'Assas, 75006, Paris, France

Abstract: This paper aims to characterise emerging webgenres used by oil multinationals to defend their activities in the face of environmental controversy. Within the framework of English for specific purposes (ESP), the analysis focuses on the advocacy webpages, blogs and online games created by ExxonMobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, BP, Shell, Total and Gazprom. A modular analysis was conducted to examine the structural, lexical and rhetorical features of each genre and identify common communicative purposes. Results show that these communication tools are founded on strategies of polyphony and conversationalisation. Controversial products or activities are also reframed as eco-friendly, promoting a novel, positive view of energy: in addition to presenting their activities as harmless to the environment, oil companies now describe them as the only solution to preserve natural resources. Further research could investigate other emerging webgenres used in controversial sectors to promote the companies' environmental messages.

Keywords: corporate discourse; oil industry; controversy; ESP; English for specific purposes; webgenres; polyphony; legitainment; oil multinationals; oil MNCs; multinational corporations; advocacy webpages; blogs; online games; ExxonMobil; Chevron; Conoco Phillips; BP; Shell; Total; Gazprom; communication tools; conversationalisation; controversial products; controversial activities; eco-friendly; environmental impact.

DOI: 10.1504/PIE.2016.082147

Progress in Industrial Ecology, An International Journal, 2016 Vol.10 No.2/3, pp.158 - 178

Received: 18 Feb 2016
Accepted: 04 Oct 2016

Published online: 08 Feb 2017 *

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