Climate crisis and flying: social media analysis traces the rise of “flightshame”

Susanne Becken, Harald Friedl, Bela Stantic, Rod M. Connolly, Jinyan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Even before the global halt to extensive mobility due to the coronavirus crisis, there has been growing resistance amongst some groups to flying. Reflecting increasing concern about the imminent climate emergency, the phenomenon of feeling ashamed of flying and expressing related emotions through communication has resulted in the neologism “flygskam”. Drawing on 14,212 Twitter posts that contained “flygskam” and a further 1037 using the English “flightshame”, this research examined the spatial-temporal spread of these words from Sweden starting in 2016 to the rest of the world indicating a global phenomenon. The findings indicate that national context continues to be important in understanding the nexus of individual and social sensemaking and processing of new information. They also demonstrate, however, that global networks (facilitated through social media) might challenge the needs of physical mobility as requirements to connect, exchange views, and create identity through peer group membership. Further analysis of the content revealed key perspectives and topics, providing insight into the relatively homogeneous discussions amongst a network community. Only 6% of posts rejected the notion, whilst the majority indicated support and advanced suggestions for more sustainable alternatives. It might be too early to say whether language behaviour expressed in online communication translates into real behaviour, but the current pandemic may well provide further impetus to no-fly movements by way of a strategic alliance between different peer groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1469
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Volume29
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • climate change
  • communication
  • crisis
  • Flightshame
  • language
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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