Framing fracking: Semantic frames as meta-argumentative indicators for knowledge-driven argument mining of controversies

Elena Musi, Mark Aakhus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article offers a first large scale analysis of argumentative polylogues in the fracking controversy. It provides an empirical methodology (macroscope) that identifies, from large quantities of text data through semantic frame analysis, the many players, positions and places presumed relevant to argumentation in a controversy. It goes beyond the usual study of framing in communication research because it considers that a controversy's communicative context is shaped, and in turn conditions, the making and defending of standpoints. To achieve these novels aims, theoretical insights from frame semantics, knowledge driven argument mining, and argumentative polylogues are combined. The macroscope is implemented using the Semafor parser to retrieve all the semantic frames present in a large corpus about fracking and then observing the distribution of those frames that semantically presuppose argumentative features of polylogue (meta-argumentative indicators). The prominent indicators are Taking-sides (indicator of "having an argument"), Evidence and Reasoning (indicators of "making an argument"). The automatic retrieval of the words associated with the core elements of the semantic frame enables the mapping of how different players, positions, and discussion venues are assembled around what is treated as disagreeable in the controversy. This knowledge driven approach to argument mining reveals prototypical traits of polylogues related to environmental issues. Moreover, it addresses a problem in conventional frame analysis common in environmental communication that focuses on the way individual arguments are presented without effective consideration of the argumentative relevance the semantics and pragmatics of certain frames operating across discourses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-135
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Argumentation in Context
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Argumentative indicators
  • Argumentative patterns
  • Fracking
  • Frames
  • Polylogue

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