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WAGE: Work, labour and greening the economy

The WAGE project seeks to examine how oil workers in Norway, Nigeria and Canada assess their own role in a green transformation.

Photo illustration: Colorbox

About the project

A green shift requires societies across the world to transition to low-emission energy regimes. Emissions from petroleum and the petroleum industry represent the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the global economy, and countries like Norway, Nigeria and Canada have based much of their economic growth on this product. The WAGE project seeks to examine how oil workers assess their own role in a green transformation.

Oil workers, long seen as champions of economic development, are framed as ‘part of the problem’ in the climate debate – rather than as part of the solution. Another challenge is the tendency to portray the green shift as a trade-off between jobs and sustainable emission levels. With this point of entry, it comes as no surprise that oil worker unions have tended to adopt a reluctant stance on climate mitigation policies.


The project will shed light on oil workers’ identity formation in the climate debate through qualitative methods, including focus groups and interviews. In particular, we will focus on how oil worker unions train their members, develop their strategies, and engage with counterparts and alliance partners in industrial relations and in politics more generally. We will also explore media representations of oil workers. The project will be carried out in dialogue with stakeholders in the business, and aims to generate transnational knowledge exchange and organisational learning through video production. The project team will also contribute theoretically to an embryonic literature on the role that work plays in mediating nature-society relations.


The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway under SAMKUL. The total grant award was for NOK 9 000 000.


OsloMet- Oslo Metropolitan University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies

York University, Department of Social Science



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Published Sep. 13, 2018 10:38 AM - Last modified Mar. 24, 2020 11:21 AM