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Article

“... Inconceivable, Unrealistic and Inhumane”. Internet Communication on the Flood Disaster in West Germany of July 2021 between Conspiracy Theories and Moralization—A Neopragmatic Explorative Study

Department of Geography, Eberhard Karls University, 72074 Tubingen, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michalis Diakakis
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11427; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011427
Received: 9 September 2021 / Revised: 12 October 2021 / Accepted: 13 October 2021 / Published: 15 October 2021
The aim of this article is an explorative study of the debate on the flood in the western part of Germany in July 2021, based on the comments found below the coverage of a German public television channel (ZDF) published on YouTube. Based on the neopragmatic framing of the analysis by connecting morality and mass media according to Luhmann, as well as Dahrendorf’s conflict theory, four patterns of interpretation were identified which illustrate a high moralization of the conflict: conclusions drawn from the storm (e.g., of a political nature, references to COVID-19, etc.), far-reaching, predominantly negative interpretations that place the storm and its consequences in the context of other negatively interpreted aspects, as well as rational and empathetic interpretations regarding expressions of sympathy and offers of help, and, ultimately, interpretations that range from climate change and planning failures to various conspiracy-theoretical claims of responsibility for the flooding. All in all, a transformation from conflicts of interest and facts to conflicts of identity and values is taking place, revealing two utopias: the utopia in which man and nature are in harmonic unity, as well as the utopia of the satisfaction of individual (material) needs in a stable material-spatial and legal framework. Science has an instrumental application in both utopias. View Full-Text
Keywords: flood; West Germany; conspiracy theory; conflict; climate change; moralization; Dahrendorf; Luhmann flood; West Germany; conspiracy theory; conflict; climate change; moralization; Dahrendorf; Luhmann
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kühne, O.; Koegst, L.; Zimmer, M.-L.; Schäffauer, G. “... Inconceivable, Unrealistic and Inhumane”. Internet Communication on the Flood Disaster in West Germany of July 2021 between Conspiracy Theories and Moralization—A Neopragmatic Explorative Study. Sustainability 2021, 13, 11427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011427

AMA Style

Kühne O, Koegst L, Zimmer M-L, Schäffauer G. “... Inconceivable, Unrealistic and Inhumane”. Internet Communication on the Flood Disaster in West Germany of July 2021 between Conspiracy Theories and Moralization—A Neopragmatic Explorative Study. Sustainability. 2021; 13(20):11427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011427

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kühne, Olaf, Lara Koegst, Marie-Luise Zimmer, and Greta Schäffauer. 2021. "“... Inconceivable, Unrealistic and Inhumane”. Internet Communication on the Flood Disaster in West Germany of July 2021 between Conspiracy Theories and Moralization—A Neopragmatic Explorative Study" Sustainability 13, no. 20: 11427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011427

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