Unearthing the Fracking Rhetoric: A Burkeian Cluster Analysis
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This paper looks at the rhetoric utilized in the debate surrounding the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing—a process for removing oil and natural gas from deep within the ground. In order to study the rhetoric surrounding hydraulic fracturing, the websites of three lobbyist groups from both sides of the debate, six in total, were selected and analyzed using Kenneth Burke’s cluster analysis method. This method consists of discovering “what goes with what” or looking at both the frequency and intensity of, as well as the relationships between, the words utilized by a speaker in order to better understand their views. Following Carol Berthold who argues cluster-analysis can be used upon multiple subjects in order to compare them and that cluster analysis can be used in order to better understand the rhetoric behind a social movement, in this paper, I have combined the rhetoric of each of the three lobbying groups in favor of hydraulic fracturing, as well as the three lobbying groups in opposition to hydraulic fracturing, so that they can be compared as if there is only two speakers, each of them representative of the arguments of their side.