Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ambar Basu


consumerism, fracking, greenwashing, natural gas, rhetoric, Teco



TECO advertisements promote the use of natural gas as an energy source because it claims that natural gas is an environmentally responsible alternative to other sources of energy. However, these advertisements do not reveal the not-so-green process, namely hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, by which natural gas is produced and the consequences that it can and does have on public health and the environment. Even though the conversation about fracking has been on the rise in recent years as certain companies and politicians have pushed for an increase in natural gas production, scholars have yet to examine the communicative strategies used by energy companies, such as TECO, to disregard the environmental dangers associated with fracking and present natural gas extraction as both environmentally friendly and safe for consumers. Although there are numerous ways of analyzing the relationship between communication and greenwashing, I chose to examine the rhetorical choices, both written and spoken, and image choices embedded in TECO's greenwashing advertisements for natural gas. The use of communicative strategies in TECO's advertisements aim to create a dominant discourse of green consumerism, which works to shape society's understanding of what it means to be a consumer who strives to be environmentally responsible. My analysis was informed by Stuart Hall's theory of Encoding and Decoding (1973) and his theory of representation (1997). I argue that TECO presents the dominant code of the green consumer and my analysis offers an oppositional reading. The use of grounded theory provided me with a viable method to analyze TECO's advertisements because I was able gather and analyze data from ten commercial advertisements, examine each individually for themes, and then discuss the ways in which TECO uses specific language, both written and spoken, and visual images, in its advertisements, in order to construct the meaning of natural gas and the identity of the natural gas consumer.

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