Apocalypse or Utopia: Telling the Future in UK Climate Protest

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The future of our climate and possible consequences are increasingly in our news, our politics, and our economics. But what should climate communicators prioritise when designing their messages about what the future holds? Popular narratives used about climate change influence the types of policy, and therefore the types of future, that are created. For example, a focus upon combatting biodiversity loss and policy protecting the natural environment may not take sufficient account of effects of climate change upon human communities and the social inequalities that contribute to these impacts. A focus upon the universal threat climate change poses may sideline the voices of those with differentiated experience. To understand the effects of using different narratives, the communication and strategies of different climate campaigning groups were analysed using narrative analysis of interviews and campaign material, from groups including Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion, and the school strikes/Fridays for Future. This paper outlines some of the preliminary findings from this research, including narratives of emergency and opportunity, despair and hope, apocalypse and utopian ideals of a bright green world. These results indicate that climate communicators use varied and sometimes contradictory messages about the present and the future, which may cause complex or inconsistent responses in audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021
EventBritish Sociological Association 70th Anniversary Virtual Conference: Remaking the Future - Online
Duration: 13 Apr 202115 Apr 2021


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association 70th Anniversary Virtual Conference


  • climate activism
  • climate change communication
  • Climate change
  • climate communication
  • extinction rebellion


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