Visualizing Climate Activism on Social Media – How does Fridays for Future Germany Picture Climate Action?

David Shim

Global Cooperation Research Papers 33, Duisburg 2023

Keywords: Fridays for Future, visual activism, climate change communication, environmental communication, social movements, imaginaries/narratives, visibility

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-33


This paper examines the visual dimension of climate activism by exploring how Fridays for Future Germany (FFFG) uses visual imagery to convey the politics of climate change to wider audiences. The author argues that FFFG is an ideal-type form of visual activism in which visual imagery is central to its climate activism. The paper builds on climate change communication scholarship and visual social movement studies to contribute an inquiry about FFFG’s visual activism. The focus is on FFFG’s visual self-representations, which promises to give insights into its strategies of self-legitimation. The empirical analysis identifies recurring visual patterns in FFFG’s visual activism and provides an interpretive reading about the implications of certain ways of seeing and showing climate change. The conclusion puts the findings in a wider political context, highlighting the importance of visualization in the (self-)legitimation of FFFG in debates about global climate governance.

The Author

Dr David Shim (Dr. phil. University of Hamburg, Germany) is Senior Lecturer at the Department of International Relations and International Organization of the University of Groningen and visiting researcher at the Chair of International Politics and Conflict Studies of the Bundeswehr University Munich. David was a Senior Research Fellow of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research in 2021-2022 with a project on ‘Visual Narratives of Climate Change’. David is interested in the visual and spatial dimension of global politics and works at the intersection of International Relations, Geography and Area Studies. His work on different visual media including comics, memorialsfilm and satellite imagery has contributed to the study of visual politics in the field of International Relations. He has translated some of his research activities into teaching practice on his blog Visual Global Politics. His work appeared, among others, in International Political Sociology, Geoforum, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific and Review of International Studies. His book Visual Politics and North Korea is available at Routledge

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