Discourse Networks in Sustainable Finance: Mobilisation of Collective Action Frames in Stakeholder Consultations on the EU Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth

Jonas Dalgaard Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Since the 2015 Paris Agreement charged its signatories to make finance flows consistent with a transition towards low-emission economies, sustainable finance has gained mainstream attention of stakeholders in transnational finance governance. As a discipline reorienting finance towards environmental, social, and governance goals, sustainable finance builds on a tradition dating back to the 1980s’ socially responsible investment initiatives. Since then, several waves of ideas and diagnoses on the ability of finance to bring about sustainable outcomes have emerged. Dimmelmeier (2020) has sorted the ideas into competing collective action frames based on shared perspectives on “what finance is” and “what it should do”. Dimmelmeier’s inquiry into sustainable finance ends with the puzzle that the competing frames may converge into a master frame of overall consensus in the policy field. However, the continued proliferation of sustainable finance initiatives opens up the possibility of re-fragmentation suggesting conflict and continued emergence of competing policies. In an attempt to refine our theoretical understanding of convergence or re-fragmentation of the ideas that drive sustainable finance, I conduct a discourse network analysis on three stakeholder consultations on EU sustainable finance policies. Discourse networks uncover how actors, based on their position in networks, enter into alliances with those they agree with or attempt to block interests of those they conflict with. The discourses mobilised by actors in the consultations will show whether Dimmelmeier’s frames accurately reflect the ideational contests in the EU policy processes. At the same time, the network structure among actors that agree or disagree on policies will uncover whether the frames converge in communities of agreement or whether they re-fragmentise into decentral communities. The results show that some frames are more central than others and are organised in structures that provide fruitful conditions for creating shared meaning in the networks suggesting convergence into a master frame. The conclusion is, however, ambiguous as actors in the consultation continue to conflict over central issues in sustainable finance governance.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages87
SupervisorsLasse Folke Henriksen