Shale tales: Politics of knowledge and promises in Europe's shale gas discourses

Roberto Cantoni*, Matthias S. Klaes, Simone I. Lackerbauer, Claudia Foltyn, Reiner Keller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Straddling the late 2000s and the early 2010s, and following the dawn of the 'shale gas revolution’ in North America, European governments have considered the possibility to repeat such an endeavor. However, the great disparity of energy mixes and histories across the continent has caused diverse responses to these plans. In this paper, we focus on three countries whose governments made markedly different choices with respect to the development of shale gas and to the application of its related extractive technology, hydraulic fracturing: France, Germany, and Poland. We analyze the discursive strategies employed by advocates of this resource/technology to turn them into a legitimate and desirable option for national energy supply. For our investigation, we mobilize a combination of theoretical frameworks and concepts originating from discourse analysis (the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse), and science & technology studies (the regime of technoscientific promises). In doing so, we focus on the press and the grey literature. Our tripartite analysis reveals that the reception of shale gas was significantly shaped by the ways in which proponents built horizons of expectations, and inflected them by adapting them to different national contexts: that was ultimately a matter of discursively structured politics of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-546
Number of pages12
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Cross-country comparison
  • Shale gas
  • Sociology of energy
  • Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD)
  • Technoscientific promises


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