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Dec 09, 2021 Article
Individual solutions to collective problems: the paradoxical treatment of environmental issues on Mexican and French YouTubers' videos

by Cecilia Lartigue, Guillaume Carbou and Muriel Lefebvre

The impact of human activity on our planet is undeniable. However, this matter of fact is not fully understandable without analyzing the narratives through which people make sense of it. In this study, we aim to describe the narratives present in environmental discourses of Mexican and French YouTubers' videos. This corpus is intended to show how environmental issues are framed in the ever-growing discursive arena of entertainment and “influencing” streaming video. We set out to perform a cross-country comparison, with the purpose of contributing to the discussion of whether environmental discourse is country-specific or shared by various nations and, possibly, even global. Our study contributes to the understanding of the social construction of the environment via these discourses. Our main result points to a paradoxical treatment of environmental issues: the YouTubers of our sample represent them as collectively induced problems, but seem to mainly believe that individual-based solutions would resolve them. More broadly, our study suggests a tendency to the individualization and, therefore, the depoliticization of environmental issues as well as a globalization of the environmental discourses in YouTubers' videos.

Volume 20 • Issue 07 • 2021