Toxicity exposed in the Greenpeace Toxic Tech campaign


This paper presents the findings of the analyses of the Green Gadgets Report (GGR) and of the Guide to Greener Electronics (GGE), the two main documents whereby Greenpeace has been disseminating the findings of the scientific investigations carried out in the context of the Toxic Tech campaign. The study draws on quantitative and qualitative research methods, including Corpus Linguistics, Pragma-dialectics and Multimodal Discourse Analysis, to describe the discursive features of these two texts and examine the knowledge-dissemination strategies used by Greenpeace to expose the toxicity of the tech industry and persuade consumers to consider issues of environmental ethics and health while purchasing their technological devices. The findings suggest that while the GGR lays out the results of a fully-fledged scientific investigation and flaunts certain features of scientific discourse, the GGE is a significantly simpler and totally unscientific document, aimed at disseminating scientific results to a wider, less specialised audience. Certain features not typical of specialised communication (including the use of generalising expressions and the stereotypical recourse to problem-solving argumentation patterns) can also be found in the hybrid GGR, but the GGE appears to rephrase and simplify scientific data in order to recontextualise the environmental and health crisis caused by the tech industry in the sports sphere. The choice to publish these two different texts, one more argumentative and scientific, the other more persuasive and entertaining, thus, appears to be functional to the dissemination of knowledge on a wide scale. By tapping into elements of specialised discourse and visual arguments alike, the Toxic Tech campaign results in a multi-genre discourse, addressing different audiences at the same time and maximising the reach of scientific discoveries by turning them into entertaining sports events.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v34p77

Keywords: argumentative pattern; GGE; GGR; Greenpeace; knowledge dissemination


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