Beyond The Deepwater Horizon Explosion: What Shaped the Social and Political Engagement of the BP Oil Spill?
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Drawing on social movement literature, my thesis examines if news media, NGO, business and government engagement of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is affected by issue or event complexity, visuality, or issue build-up. To engage this, data from English language newspaper articles in the US, Canada, and the UK, press releases by Greenpeace and Sierra Club, press releases by BP, ExxonMobil, and Shell as well as press releases by the White House are analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. I find that as an issue or event’s casual narrative becomes less complicated and as it becomes easier to portray visually its engagement by social and political actors increases. I also find that issue engagement is influenced by whether or not social and political actors signal an issue or an event’s importance to others.