Proceedings of Conference. 4th-7th June 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Proceedings of Conference. 4th-7th June 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Parallel Session 7

Session 7.1. Trust

Social psychological process and inclusive policymaking in the environmental domain: the role of local identity upon the acceptance of biodiversity and water resource conservation policies

Mirilia Bonnes , Giuseppe Carrus, Marino Bonaiuto, Paola Passafaro

University of Rome “La Sapienza” – Department of Social and Developmental Psychology

Assumptions from the fields of social and environmental psychology are used to discuss the role of participatory approaches in promoting the endorsement of public environmental policies, in the domains of biodiversity and fresh-water resource conservation.

The results of various Italian case-studies, investigating how public compliance to approaches followed by public authorities , are presented. The main focus is on the role of local identity in shaping public acceptance of conservation policies.

In the case of biodiversity conservation, field studies and laboratory experiments were conducted to assess the role of local identity in driving local support for (or opposition to) the institution of different natural protected areas. Results showed how a strong local identity can be a major social psychological driver of local people’s support for biodiversity conservation policies, when these are implemented through participatory and inclusive approaches. Conversely, a strong local identity can represent a major social psychological barrier to the endorsement of public biodiversity conservation policies, when inclusive methods are not sufficiently implemented.

In the case of fresh water resource conservation, a field study was conducted to assess the role local identity, value orientations and trust in public authorities’ upon domestic fresh-water conservation behaviours. Results showed how local identity, pro-social value orientation, and trust in public authorities predict water conservation behaviours.

The implications for the enhancement of public commitment to biodiversity and freshwater conservation policies are discussed.

Full paper

Development and functions of different forms of trust in Swiss participatory landscape planning

Corina Hoppner, Jacqueline Frick, Matthias Buchecker

Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Switzerland

Ever since scientists have focussed their attention on the investigation of participatory approaches, they have been facing questions about prerequisites, promoters and social impacts of participatory processes on involved individuals and groups. Some scholars argue that the building of trust is sometimes regarded as the genuine benefit of participatory processes because it has a positive influence on social relations and systems even beyond the current process. However, knowledge about the influence of participatory processes on trust is still limited. Studies measuring the development of trust during and in the wake of a participatory process are an exception. Furthermore, the functions of different forms of trust in social relations and different settings within a participatory process are still to be explored. In our paper we address the above stated gaps in knowledge and empirical research in the context of environmental and more specifically landscape planning. We chose a new instrument for participatory landscape planning on communal level in Switzerland , the Landscape Development Concept (LDC). In a LDC, different participatory techniques like workshops, “round tables” and field inspections are applied to involve stakeholders, authorities and planners. In order to investigate trust building in LDCs, we conducted two studies. First, a survey among LDC experts (n=17) provided a general evaluation of this potential. Second, a questionnaire assessing participants’ trust in other participants and local authorities as well as the participants’ confidence in the process was administered to participants (n=50) before and after the participatory planning phase. Furthermore, the function of trust in different participatory settings were explored in semi-structured interviews with these participants. The paper clarifies forms and functions of trust in participatory settings in spatial planning. However, our findings in the field of spatial planning may thus contribute to a better understanding of participatory approaches in general.

Session 7.2. Nanotechnology

Representation as a matter of agency: a reflection on nanotechnological innovations

José Manuel de Cózar-Escalante

University of La Laguna, Spain

One of the problems that surfaces when we try to involve society in the deliberation of science-based policy issues --the main goal of PATH--, is figuring out the best way to represent a diverse and diffuse public in this deliberation. Although this is primarily a matter of political representation, we cannot ignore the epistemological aspect of representation. By investigating the connections between political and epistemological representation, using the field of nanotechnological innovations as a basis, we can better comprehend the problem of representation and improve the channels of public participation in science and technology. In order to carry out this analysis we propose using agency as the central concept because this approach (1) utilizes the fundamental trait that both types of representation have in common: epistemological and political representation can be analysed in terms of “nodes” where different kinds of agency come together and at the same time they are themselves both products of agency that unleash successive chains of actions; (2) it also allows us to understand the mechanism of self-vindication used by representational scientific and technological networks; (3) it minimises the anthropocentric bias in discourse about representation since it acknowledges non-human agency; and (4) it clears the way for the creation of public participation mechanisms in the deliberation of scientific and technological material. In order to illustrate this we will briefly consider a case of nanotechnological innovation: diagnostic tools for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Full paper

Social perspectives on nanotechnology research and development: a view from Australia

Katz, E., Lovel, R., Mee, W. and Solomon, F.

CSIRO, Australia

There are growing calls for the evaluation, regulation and improved governance of nanotechnologies to anticipate and address their likely social impacts. The national science research organisation in Australia , the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is carrying out scientific research at the nanoscale in a range of areas. At the same time as the technical work, a team of social scientists has concentrated on the social implications and public perceptions of nanotechnologies in a local Australian context. In this paper we introduce some of the findings of our experiences in public engagement approaches and our attempts to integrate these into research governance within CSIRO. We describe some of the key concerns about nanotechnologies as raised by participants in our research and reflect on some of the tensions and challenges such forums raise for social scientists working as practitioner-researchers within scientific institutions, and discuss issues of contingency and contestability in relation to our research findings.

Full paper

Session 7.3. Critical reflections on participatory methods

Means to an end. Participatory methods in technology assessment

Michael Decker

Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems (ITAS)

This contribution refers to results from the EU-Project TAMI (Technology Assessment in Europe : Between Method and Impact). The general question to be answered in TAMI was ”How can TA-institutions optimise the impact of their projects?”. TAMI tackled that question from two perspectives. The first was straight forward: we must optimise our TA-projects in order to increase our impact. The second took a more indirect approach by categorising potential impacts of TA in order to identify concrete goals for TA-projects. TAMI developed a structure “from method to impact” which starts with an appraisal of the current social, political or ecological situation or problem and the definition of the concrete impact the TA-practitioner wants to aim for. According to both the current situation and the general goal, the TA-project will be designed as that combination of TA-methods, which can be justified as the most promising one to reach this goal. Moreover general criteria of good practice of TA must be taken into account. In this structure the means to an end aspect of TA-methods is obvious. To consider a certain method in the TA-project design can be justified referring to three aspects: 1. to the current situation, 2. to the impact to be reached, and/or 3. to general quality criteria of good practice in TA. This is true for participatory methods as well. Referring to the typology of impacts developed in TAMI the relevance of public participation will be reflected referring to the PATH-conference topic “nanotechnology”.

Full paper

An analysis of the influence of social preferences on the multi-criteria evaluation of energy scenarios

Ines Omann , Lisa Bohunovsky, Katharina Kowalski, Reinhard Madlener, Sigrid Stagl

Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Vienna, Austria

The aim of this paper is to critically reflect on the use of social preferences by means of weights in participatory multi-criteria evaluation (MCE). Insights are drawn from systems theory as the conceptual base and from empirical case study work on renewable energy scenario assessments for Austria at two different levels (national and local). In an MCE social preferences express the values of stakeholders; these complement the facts captured in the impact matrix describing the case/s studied. In this two-level study, the social preferences expressed by stakeholders were first transformed into weights by employing the SIMOS method. For each criterion a weight was calculated, representing the importance of the criterion for a sustainable energy system. In a second step these weights were used as an input in an MCE (using PROMETHEE I). The same methodology was used for both case studies. Minor differences between the two MCE process levels occurred for practical reasons, such as timing. For example, no group weighting was carried out on the national level, and certain criteria were measured by different indicators on the two levels. Also, the scenarios differed somewhat by the degree of detail of the exploration, and the language used to describe the scenarios was more technical on the national level. The influence of the weights on the rankings of the scenarios have been analysed through sensitivity analyses. The analyses exhibit very robust results for the local level, in particular for the highest ranked scenarios. The rankings of the less favoured scenarios change with substantial changes in the weights [provide some indication as to how much is considered ‘substantial’]. In the national case study the influence of the weights is somewhat more pronounced. The results show two clusters of scenarios which do not switch ranks, but within the clusters rankings change quite easily with weights.

This paper suggests that the application of a participatory MCE with social preferences as weights is a transparent and robust way of including different sets of stakeholder priorities into the analysis. The discussion explores in particular in which way the use of weights reveals a better founded display of social preferences, compared to some direct ranking of alternative scenarios by stakeholders on the basis of scenario presentations.

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