T08P06 - Argumentative Turn 2.0: Ideas, Narratives and Deliberation in Environmental Policy

Topic : Policy Discourse and Critical Policy Research

Panel Chair : Ching Leong - chingl@gmail.com

Panel Second Chair : Frank Fischer - ffischer@gmx.com

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1 Argumentative Turn 2.0: Ideas, Narratives and Deliberation in Environmental Policy

The Narrative Construction of Environmental Realities: The Opposing Discourses About Chilean Ecological Modernization (1990-2015)

Fernando Campos Medina - fcamposmedina@gmail.com - Núcleo Científico Tecnológico en Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades - Chile

This article offers a framework for analyzing social discourses regarding modernization of the environmental institution (1990-2015) on the basis of the notion of socio-ecological conflict. The re-emergence of this type of conflict in the last years in Chile evidences a conflictive way of understanding and an adverse form for rendering the so-called ecological crisis. Reconstructing the positions of different actors in the field of environmental politics is expected to emphasize: i) contradictory interpretations of ecological modernization, ii) -derived from the previous- selective orientations for action regulation in each group, and iii) specific spatio-temporal frameworks for constraining / allowing social action.


The narrative approach to socio-ecological conflicts highlights the controversial condition of the society-nature relationship trough time and allows an account on the role played by different actors. Political actors –government official- are approached in their understanding of ecological modernization as institutional improvement. Academic actors reset the tensions between the regulation and the intensification of socio-ecological conflict produced by the environmental institution transformation. The civil society and local authorities stress ecological modernization as an engine for nature’s subjugation and commodification, while local community sheds light on the social conflicts provoked by exponential growth of the extractive industries.

The article argues that the discourse, in which ecological modernization is rendered, as a final stage of institutional improvement, obscures controversial reorganization of actions and roles taking place in the environmental scene. The central argument proposes that the clash between different organizations of time and space among social groups offers a good perspective to account for the socio-ecological conflict. A spatio-temporal restructuration analysis asks which interpretations, actions, and dispositives are produced by specific spatio-temporal regimes, rather than to deem them as stable or given before hand.


Narrative Settings in Policy Narratives

Elizabeth Shanahan - shanahan@montana.edu - Montana State University - United States

The role of policy narratives in the policy process is being increasingly studied. The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), in particular, has taken an iterative approach to the study of policy narratives to understand the import of specific narrative elements (e.g., characters) and strategies (e.g., causal mechanisms). While narrative elements such as characters and plot have been well-studied using the NPF, what remains absent from NPF work is the role of settings. 


Settings are surprisingly complex. Their prevalence is so pervasive that setting, despite its importance, often goes unnoticed. Settings are where characters take action; settings are where the plot unfolds. Setting are spatiotemporal contexts, connected in some coherent manner (Herman, 2012). 


In this study, we focus on the role of settings in flood hazard policy narratives. In the American West, floods shape and re-shape our landscape; our policy response is at multiple levels: federal, state, county, and local. We interviewed 26 flood plain managers along the Yellowstone River. The questions we address in this study are: What are the various settings used by flood plain managers? Do these settings vary by geographic location, administrative position, or cultural cognition type? How do settings interact with each other and with characters? The interviews will be coded by three researchers to develop a conceptual map of how settings operate in these hazard policy narratives. 

Just a marketplace of ideas? Climate change (policy) skepticism in light of transnational networks

Dieter Plehwe - dieter.plehwe@wzb.eu - Berlin Social Science Research Center (WZB) - Germany



Climate change politics can be considered a paradigmatic case of confrontation in terms of objectivist and political epistemologies. Climate change sceptics attack climate science based on claims that are frequently directed against evidence based argumentation, suggesting an eminently political character of empirical climate science. Both climate scientists invested in objectivist epistemologies and environmental social science scholars invested in political epistemology object to climate science denial and policy skepticism. It is not clear, however, if the epistemological tensions within the climate change policy tent at the same time hamper the climate change policy project. Is the response to climate change (policy skepticism) adequate to meet the challenges emanating from this effort? Which are the arguably different epistemic, empirical, policy related challenges and how do climate change science communities address these? Discussions of epistemic cultures (Jassanof 2005) and knowledge regimes (Campbell and Pedersen 2014) hitherto focus mostly at the differences between countries. In which ways do transnational dimensions of the climate change denial forces challenge such dimensions of epistemic nationalism?

The paper will utilize data from several hundred think tanks on both sides of the debate, denial/policy skepticism and climate change policy promoters. I will particulary try to assess in which ways epistemological challenges emanating from neoliberal science philosophy are successful to shift the climate change debate, because they differ from the challenges of (alleged) climate science objectivism. Market place (of ideas) notions suggest that criteria of truth are neither objectivist nor political, but simply numbers of buyers and sellers. On a different level, policy skepticism is rooted in a variety of a priori assumptions and truth claims related to a) human behavior, self interest etc., b) collective behavior, moral hazard etc.  and c) interventionism, unintended consequences of public policy etc.

Deliberative Policy Analysis: the case of khon Kaen

Frank Fischer - ffischer@gmx.com - University of Kassel and Rutgers University - Germany

Piyapong Boossabong - piyapong@msu.ac.th - College of Politics and Governance, Mahasarakham University - Thailand

This paper presented the theory and practice of deliberative policy analysis and illustrates the practice with a case study from Thailand.

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