(Don’t) be ashamed during take-off and landing: negotiations of flight shame in the Norwegian public debate
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Sustainable Tourism. 2022. 10.1080/09669582.2022.2127745
This article examines the rhetorical use, function, and public value of appeals to shame and guilt in the climate change debate. It does so through rhetorical criticism of opinion articles discussing flight shame published in Norwegian newspapers 2019–2020. The opinion articles partake in a rhetorical exchange in which the legitimacy of air travel, responsibility for mitigation efforts, and acceptability of appeals to shame and guilt are negotiated. This article examines how this negotiation happens rhetorically through argumentation and appeals to certain values and discusses how appeals to flight shame facilitate deliberation on climate change mitigation. The analysis finds that appeals to flight shame are often interpreted as attacks on “ordinary” people living in rural areas and responded to with accusations of elitist behaviour and moralising, and arguments that reframe flying as an acceptable social practice. Thus, the rhetorical use of shame can increase polarization and obstruct much-needed cooperation in tackling the challenges of climate change. However, the debate also constitutes a rhetorical examination and negotiation of issues of culpability and responsibility that invites the audience of the debate to reconsider their travel habits in relation to the issue of climate change and questions about moral responsibility and solidarity.