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From dirty oil to ethical oil: Petroturfing and the cultural politics of Canadian oil after social media1

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This article examines print and screen media produced and circulated by groups and organizations that promote Canadian oil from self-described positions of distance from the oil and gas industry. Offering the term ‘petroturfing’ to describe their collective efforts, I argue that the media produced by these groups and organizations advance their aims to consciously shape our collective energy imaginaries by mirroring the new media strategies and structures of progressive environmental non-governmental organizations. I ultimately show how petroturfing is a ‘permanent campaign’ for Canadian oil that obscures the fundamentally uneven distribution of social and ecological costs and benefits of fossil fuel extraction, foreclosing the possibility of imagining and, in turn, working towards a future beyond the dominant fossil fuel energy regime.

Keywords: clicktivism; energy politics; energy transition; environmental activism; fossil economy; participatory media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419368649McGill University

Publication date: July 1, 2020

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