Competing climate spectacles in the amplified public space
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 2022, 40 (7), 1437–1454. 10.1177/23996544221082406
The climate change debate is finding new expressions through political protests and demonstrations, during which a plurality of climate narratives emerges. While protests such as Extinction Rebellion have had a strong physical manifestation, involving many people showing up in concrete locations, they have also been facilitated and mediated virtually. In this paper, we examine the spectacle generated when divergent discourses on climate change compete for attention in spaces that are simultaneously urban and virtual. The paper is based on empirical evidence from events surrounding London Fashion Week 2019, focusing on the political mobilization by Extinction Rebellion Boycott Fashion (XRBF) and other groups. Discussing this changing nature of urban protest spectacle, we point to the emergence of an ‘amplified public space’ shaped at the intersection of material and virtual spaces of the city. Both the fashion industry and XRBF employ techniques of spectacle in their strategies to advance their respective climate change and sustainability narratives. We argue that XRBF, in particular, has managed to influence the climate change debate by strategically staging spectacular protest events that are both facilitated and played out in virtual space.