Macquarie University
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From climate change to deforestation: a genre of popularised science

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posted on 2022-03-29, 01:34 authored by Chonlada Laohawiriyanon
The topics of climate change, population growth, and deforestation, as discussed in publications such as New Scientist, Discover, Time, and Our Planet, exemplify contemporary writing on science for the general community. As such, it is assumed that they are presented in an objective, scientific, informative way. Furthermore, these topics illustrate what it means to write complex issues in a popular manner. Consequently, they provide an opportunity for examining at least one area of popular science as a generic phenomenon.-- Through an investigation of thirty texts (ten on each of the three topics mentioned), the consistencies and distinctive features of writing on these environmental issues are investigated, in particular using discourse tools drawn from Systemic Functional linguistics. The foremost tools are the proposals concerning GSP (Generic Structure Potential) put forward by Hasan, which provide an outline of the syntagmatic unfolding of a text ("logogenetic perspective") and the four stratal perspective that is illustrated in the work by Halliday and Hasan, in particular as such work relates wording to culture. By assessing the degree to which the thirty texts constitute a genre, and the degree to which they exhibit their own internal variations, it is also possible to clarify Halliday's notion of the 'cline of instantiation' between, at one end, the 'potential/system' and, at the other end, the instance of 'text as process'.-- The investigation reveals that the assumption of an informative, objective style in popular science journal articles actually obscures a deeper underlying activism about the future, but an activism strongly based on only Western perceptions of environmental crisis.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Theoretical background -- The structure of popular scientific writing on 'climate change' -- Findings of analysis of texts on population growth and deforestation -- Interaction between verbal and visuals representations -- Conclusion.


Bibliography: p. 299-305

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, School of English, Linguistics and Media

Department, Centre or School

School of English and Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

David G. Butt


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Chonlada Laohawiriyanon 1999.




ix, 305, 217 p. ill. (some col.)

Former Identifiers

mq:3078 1285105