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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2023

Google Search and the creation of ignorance: The case of the climate crisis

Haider, Jutta; Roedl, Malte


The article examines the relationship between commercial search engines, using Google Search as an example, and various forms of ignorance related to climate change. It draws on concepts from the field of agnotology to explore how environmental ignorances, and specifically related to the climate crisis, are shaped at the intersection of the logics of Google Search, everyday life and civil society/politics. Ignorance refers to a multi-facetted understanding of the culturally contingent ways in which something may not be known. Two research questions are addressed: How are environmental ignorances, and in particular related to the climate crisis, shaped at the intersection of the logics of Google Search, everyday life and civil society/politics? In what ways can we conceptualise Google's role as configured into the creation of ignorances? The argument is made through four vignettes, each of which explores and illustrates how Google Search is configured into a different kind of socially produced ignorance: (1) Ignorance through information avoidance: climate anxiety; (2) Ignorance through selective choice: gaming search terms; (3) Ignorance by design: algorithmically embodied emissions; (4) Ignorance through query suggestions: directing people to data voids. The article shows that while Google Search and its underlying algorithmic and commercial logic pre-figure these ignorances, they are also co-created and co-maintained by content producers, users and other human and non-human actors, as Google Search has become integral of social practices and ideas about them. The conclusion draws attention to a new logic of ignorance that is emerging in conjunction with a new knowledge logic.


Ignorance; agnotology; environmental communication; relevance; climate change; search engines; information avoidance

Publicerad i

Big Data & Society
2023, Volym: 10, nummer: 1

    Globala målen

    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Information Studies
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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