Chapter

Strategies for Integrating Quantitative Methods into Critical Social Acceptance Research

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Recent commentaries on the corpus of social acceptability research around renewable energy have identified the need for critical approaches that move beyond individualist and positivist methodologies. Many energy-related behaviours, much like the landscapes in which they play out, are recursively recreated and institutionalized as they are enacted, limiting the emergence and success of alternatives. We believe that quantitative methods—particularly household surveys—can generate relevant insights and illustrate this with recent quantitative surveys on energy transitions that explore, among other things, issues of materiality, social location and norms. We provide empirical examples of specific approaches for doing such work (e.g. question wording, experimental design) and make recommendations for a more fulsome engagement with critical approaches within a more positivist paradigm of data gathering.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... However, opinion polls have been increasingly criticized for looking at isolated opinions without considering the wider social and institutional context [18]. Yet, there are ways to make quantitative research more contextual, for example, by including survey items that tap into socially constructed influences, such as community relationships and norms (e.g., perceived social pressure to oppose or accept a proposed project) [101]. Nonetheless, quantitative data is limited because it often fails to reflect the variety of attitudes and perceptions across and within individuals. ...
... Nonetheless, quantitative data is limited because it often fails to reflect the variety of attitudes and perceptions across and within individuals. Qualitative interviews, as well as more innovative and novel data collection methods, such as Q-methodology, discourse analysis, ethnography, diaries, life-history interviews and social media analysis, could complement quantitative survey research by providing additional insights into people's socially constructed responses to AWE [101,102]. ...
... Furthermore, it is hard to draw any conclusions about the implications of research when it is unknown what causes the underlying psychological processes [37]. While multiple researchers have attempted to converge the broader factors that influence public acceptability into one framework [e.g., 101,102], these frameworks do not completely reflect the complexity of the matter and have not been widely adopted [18]. It would be worthwhile for future research to build a comprehensive, interdisciplinary model of energy acceptability that helps to map and better understand the complex influences that form public perceptions of and responses to AWE and wind energy projects in general. ...
Full-text available
Preprint
Airborne wind energy (AWE) systems use tethered flying devices to harvest higher-altitude winds to produce electricity. For a successful deployment of these systems, it is crucial to understand how the public perceives them. If public concerns about the technology are not taken seriously, implementation could be delayed or, in some cases, prevented, resulting in increased costs for project developers and a lower contribution of the sector to renewable energy targets. This literature review assessed the current state of knowledge on public responses to AWE. An exhaustive literature search led to the identification of 40 relevant publications that were reviewed. The literature assumed that the safety, visibility, acoustic emissions, ecological impacts, and the siting of AWE systems shape public responses to the technology. The reviewed literature views people’s responses to AWE very optimistically but lacks scientific evidence to back up its claims. It seems to overlook that the influence of AWE’s characteristics (e.g., visibility) on public responses will also depend on a range of situational and psychological factors (e.g., people’s general attitude towards AWE, the public’s trust in project developers). Therefore, empirical social scientific research is needed to increase the field’s understanding of public responses to AWE and thereby facilitate deployment.
Article
The purpose of the article is to contribute to structuring the problem of how to advance a sustainable energy transition and achieve carbon neutrality goals while ensuring a democratic and inclusive process, by drawing on a pilot case – i.e., the energy transition in Portugal. By building on approaches and concepts from the Sustainability Transitions research field, the article explores perceptions, values, and concerns regarding distributed and centralized energy models; inclusivity and energy democracy; energy systems’ sustainability concerns and the speed of the transition. The study draws on the hypothesis that stakeholders across the state, market, community and third sector spheres, while equally supporting decarbonization, have different perceptions, values, and concerns regarding the social, environmental, and technological dynamics of the energy transition that need to be better understood for accelerating the transition. The multi-method approach included interviews, a survey (N = 110) and a stakeholder workshop, to unpack the key values and preferences around energy system technologies, sustainability and inclusionary aspects, the role of centralized and distributed energy systems and new investments, namely in green hydrogen and lithium mining. The results indicate there is a significant convergence on the fact that decarbonization is a priority that needs to be supported by inclusive and democratic processes. Decentralization, energy communities and solar energy are extremely valued, and transparency and information sharing are crucial expectations for new lithium mining projects, large-scale solar and green hydrogen investments. These findings outline some avenues for future research, where participation and transparency become anchors for a sustainable and inclusive transition.
Full-text available
Article
https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol24/iss3/art19/ --- Holistic management (HM) is a decision-making framework, first developed in grazing systems, which combines intensive, rapid rotation of grazing livestock with adaptive and holistic decision making. Holistic management's use of systems thinking concepts may help farmers cope with increasing complexity on their farms. We used Q-methodology, a mixed method approach for identifying discourses, to understand the levels and types of systems thinking employed by farmers and HM trainers along a gradient of HM engagement. With responses from 18 Canadian and American participants, we identified 3 main viewpoints: the Fluent Systems Thinker, with adherence to core systems ideas such as tackling root causes and mimicking nature; the Aspirational Systems Balancer, who appreciates systems thinking ideas but struggles with application; and the Independent Creative Farmer, who adheres to more conventional farming traditions but values creativity and learning. These groups differed in their levels of empowerment, creativity, goal setting, and willingness to learn, all of which can affect capacity to manage complex decisions. All but one participating HM trainer were Fluent Systems Thinkers, suggesting the alignment of HM with systems thinking. All three of our participating females fell under the Aspirational Systems Balancer, suggesting lower levels of empowerment. We concluded that stronger engagement with HM correlates with higher adherence to systems thinking ideas and different types of systems thinking, although more research is needed to explore the direction of causation, the role of gender, and the ultimate effects on farm outcomes.
Full-text available
Article
As more researchers have considered the use of mixed methods, writings have moved away from debates about epistemological incompatibilities and now focus on the (potential) value of increased understanding that comes from combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. Yet, as the level of integration can vary substantially, some designs are said to allow one method or the other to dominate. Although there may be sound reasoning for intentionally allowing one method to dominate, here we investigate one literature as a moment to reflect why, and on the degree to which mixed methods sequence is so bound up with methodological dominance, that calling such studies “mixed” may seem misleading. Like the history of social science more generally, it is quantitative research that is typically given more weight in these studies and academics have noted a few reasons why this may be the case. Few have investigated how research design—and more specifically method sequence—may impact method dominance. Using an emerging mixed methods literature surrounding the social acceptance of wind energy (N = 34), we study the relationship between the timing of each method (i.e., sequence) and method dominance to see whether qualitative methods in particular are marginalized. Through our Dominance in Mixed Methods Assessment model, we provide evidence that indeed qualitative methods are marginalized and this may be associated with method sequence and other design elements. Moreover, some authors focus solely on one method, giving pause to caution both writers and readers about the use of the term “mixed methods.” The analytical approach is detailed enough to be replicated and detect whether these patterns are repeated in other research domains.
Full-text available
Article
A gap exists in cross-technology and large-scale research about public support for energy infrastructure, particularly the influence of exposure on attitudes. We used a national panel sample of Canadians to explore drivers of support across ten energy technologies, comparing predictors such as exposure, political views, environmental values and sectoral employment with controls for demographics and geography. Exposure to a specific infrastructure was associated with support for four technologies, only one of which was renewable (solar); the others were nuclear, oil from non-tar sand sources and coal, the last of which had the strongest effect with exposure doubling the likelihood of support. However, noticing any infrastructure at all boosted support for all renewable technologies included as well as natural gas, increasing the likelihood of support for key renewables (wind, hydroelectricity, and solar) by 61-76%. Beyond the importance of noticing infrastructure, our results demonstrate that energy technology support follows relatively predictable lines in Canada, save for a general lack of urban-rural divide in attitudes. Results suggest that hiding energy infrastructure may be a barrier to renewable energy transitions, but first we need: more nuanced measurements of exposure and noticing, to understand the direction of causality between such variables and support; and, to explore the roles of energy literacy and gender.
Full-text available
Article
Being able to replicate scientific findings is crucial for scientific progress. We replicate 21 systematically selected experimental studies in the social sciences published in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. The replications follow analysis plans reviewed by the original authors and pre-registered prior to the replications. The replications are high powered, with sample sizes on average about five times higher than in the original studies. We find a significant effect in the same direction as the original study for 13 (62%) studies, and the effect size of the replications is on average about 50% of the original effect size. Replicability varies between 12 (57%) and 14 (67%) studies for complementary replicability indicators. Consistent with these results, the estimated true-positive rate is 67% in a Bayesian analysis. The relative effect size of true positives is estimated to be 71%, suggesting that both false positives and inflated effect sizes of true positives contribute to imperfect reproducibility. Furthermore, we find that peer beliefs of replicability are strongly related to replicability, suggesting that the research community could predict which results would replicate and that failures to replicate were not the result of chance alone.
Full-text available
Book
Social-ecological challenges call for a far better integration of the social sciences into conservation training and practice. Environmental problems are, first and foremost, people problems. Without better understandings of the people involved, solutions are often hard to come by, regardless of expertise in biology, ecology, or other traditional conservation sciences. This novel book provides an accessible survey of a broad range of theories widely applicable to environmental problems that students and practitioners can apply to their work. It serves as a simple reference guide to illuminate the value and utility of social science theories for the practice of environmental conservation. As part of the Techniques in Ecology and Conservation Series, it will be a vital resource for conservation scientists, students, and practitioners to better navigate the social complexities of applying their work to real-world problem-solving.
Full-text available
Article
Social sciences’ research on the social acceptance of renewable energy generation and associated technologies (RET), such as high voltage power lines, has been growing in the last decades. In fact, while RET are considered one of the main mitigation measures of climate change, opposition to their construction, and namely from the local communities living nearby, is often found. Important conceptual proposals have been made for a better understanding of opposition, however, this literature still presents some limitations. Here, I will discuss two of them: first, the main focus on the local and, with it, the lack of a relational and critical approach, which recognizes opposition and other types of responses to RET as public participation in RET-related issues; second, the focus on the individual and the consequent lack of examining people’s material practices and engagements.
Full-text available
Article
In 2013, the state-owned electrical energy utility in New Brunswick, Canada, announced that a problem with concrete expansion was shortening by 40 years the expected life of the 660 MW Mactaquac Generating Station on the Saint John River. Its construction late in the 1960s, and the subsequent inundation of 10,000 hectares (ha) was part of a regional modernisation programme. Locals lost homes, agricultural land, communities and landmarks and a new mill changed livelihoods and attracted new people. In the intervening decades, the reservoir has become locally cherished for waterfront living and pleasure boat recreation. Since 2012, independent social science research about the fate of the dam and headpond has been undertaken in parallel with stakeholder engagement and public relations by the electricity utility. The final decision was delivered late 2016. The chosen option was to extend the dam’s life through repairs in situ, not one of the options formally under consideration. This paper presents provincial-scale discourses on the Mactaquac decision, using a 2014 energy survey of 500 New Brunswick residents which included questions about the Mactaquac decision. Analysis reveals how provincial preferences aligned with local qualitative research (summarised in an Appendix), revealing preferences for ongoing headpond amenity and the avoidance of further trauma associated with major landscape change. Preferences of First Nations to remove the dam may yet prove disruptive to the announced option. The discussion summarises aspects of the case study relevant to other instances of dam removal and landscape transition, as well as exploring options for further theoretical development, testing or application. These opportunities include: why males and females demonstrated different scales of concern around Mactaquac; the implications of different framings of hydroelectricity development (e.g. sacrificial landscape or local energy) on removal debates; and, how public decision-making can usefully engage with rather than dismiss uncertainty and path dependency.
Full-text available
Article
Thirty years of North American research on public acceptance of wind energy has produced important insights, yet knowledge gaps remain. This review synthesizes the literature, revealing the following lessons learned. (1) North American support for wind has been consistently high. (2) The NIMBY explanation for resistance to wind development is invalid. (3) Socioeconomic impacts of wind development are strongly tied to acceptance. (4) Sound and visual impacts of wind facilities are strongly tied to annoyance and opposition, and ignoring these concerns can exacerbate conflict. (5) Environmental concerns matter, though less than other factors, and these concerns can both help and hinder wind development. (6) Issues of fairness, participation, and trust during the development process influence acceptance. (7) Distance from turbines affects other explanatory variables, but alone its influence is unclear. (8) Viewing opposition as something to be overcome prevents meaningful understandings and implementation of best practices. (9) Implementation of research findings into practice has been limited. The paper also identifies areas for future research on wind acceptance. With continued research efforts and a commitment toward implementing research findings into developer and policymaker practice, conflict and perceived injustices around proposed and existing wind energy facilities might be significantly lessened.
Full-text available
Article
The designing, collecting, analyzing, and reporting of psychological studies entail many choices that are often arbitrary. The opportunistic use of these so-called researcher degrees of freedom aimed at obtaining statistically significant results is problematic because it enhances the chances of false positive results and may inflate effect size estimates. In this review article, we present an extensive list of 34 degrees of freedom that researchers have in formulating hypotheses, and in designing, running, analyzing, and reporting of psychological research. The list can be used in research methods education, and as a checklist to assess the quality of preregistrations and to determine the potential for bias due to (arbitrary) choices in unregistered studies.
Full-text available
Article
A cornerstone of environmental policy is the debate over protecting nature for humans’ sake (instrumental values) or for nature’s (intrinsic values) (1). We propose that focusing only on instrumental or intrinsic values may fail to resonate with views on personal and collective well-being, or “what is right,” with regard to nature and the environment. Without complementary attention to other ways that value is expressed and realized by people, such a focus may inadvertently promote worldviews at odds with fair and desirable futures. It is time to engage seriously with a third class of values, one with diverse roots and current expressions: relational values. By doing so, we reframe the discussion about environmental protection, and open the door to new, potentially more productive policy approaches.
Full-text available
Article
Family farms play an important role in the European countryside, yet their number is steadily declining. This raises the question of what conveys resilience to family farms, i.e. the ability to persist over the long-term through buffering shocks and adapting to change. Within the current approaches to farm resilience, we distinguish between two perspectives: the first focuses on material structures and highlights the role of farm types and ecological dynamics. The second focuses on actors and highlights that farmer agency and wider social forces also play important roles. We argue that a third perspective, one focusing on relations, has the potential to overcome both the structure/agency and the ecological/social dichotomies. Indeed, a relational approach enables a closer analysis of how ecological and social processes interact to undermine or strengthen resilience. The approach also allows to identify the different relationalities that are enacted within a specific context, foregrounding diversity in farming. Furthermore, it highlights that relations are continuously made and remade, putting the emphasis on change, and on the wider patterns that enable or constrain change. A relational approach would thus contribute to overcoming a one-sided focus on states and stability, shifting attention to the patterns of relations that enable transformational change.
Full-text available
Article
Biodiversity-friendly farming is a growing area of discussion among farmers, as well as in government departments and non-government organizations interested in conservation on private land. Those seeking to encourage biodiversity on farms must understand the production challenges presented by wildlife. Such species destroy agricultural commodities or present threats to family, pets, or infrastructure. A survey of farmers in the Canadian Maritime provinces sought to understand the drivers of tolerance. Our results demonstrated that estimated monetary losses from a species were largely unrelated to the perceived acceptability of those losses. Rather, the type of nuisance—damage to crops/property or threat to the safety of people, pets, or livestock—determined whether a loss would be perceived as acceptable and if that acceptability would influence tolerance. For damaging species, the perception of cultural benefits seemed able to convert high estimated economic losses to acceptable ones, for overall tolerance. For threatening species, however, minor perceived financial losses seemed augmented by low perceived benefits and made unacceptable, leading to intolerance. Female, older, and part-time farmers were most likely to identify threatening species as a nuisance. The use of an elicitation-based survey design provided novel insight as a result of the lack of prompts, but also presented analytical challenges that weakened predictive power. Recommendations are given for further research and management.
Full-text available
Article
The emotions that human beings experience play a fundamental role in all social phenomena. As a result, sociology needs to incorporate the analysis of affective structures and emotional dynamics into its objects of study. The integration of feelings, affects, moods and emotional states into sociological research, which began four decades ago with the birth of the sociology of emotions, must continue advancing until emotions are fully integrated into the general sociological perspective. This article offers an introductory and critical overview of the work sociologists of emotions have carried out so far. They have helped us, first of all, to understand what an emotion is, the countless number of existing feelings, and the great complexity of emotional processes. Second, they have revealed the social nature of human emotions, and the emotional nature of social phenomena. Third, they have developed a number of theoretical approaches to studying the emotions. And, lastly, they have carried out sociological analyses of many specific emotions (fear, trust, shame, etc.), and emotional analyses in many areas of sociology (gender, work, organizations, social movements, etc.). This article also offers suggestions for the future development of the sociology of emotions, and a selected and updated bibliography.
Full-text available
Article
The literature concerning local opposition to wind turbine developments has relatively few case studies exploring the felt impacts of people living with turbines in their daily lives. Aitken even suggests that such residents are subtly or overtly cast as deviants in the current literature. Our mixed-methods, grounded-theory case study of two communities in Ontario, Canada provides insights about such residents though twenty-six face-to-face in-depth interviews, 152 questionnaires, and basic spatial analysis involving locals who have been living with operating turbines for several years. Despite being neighbours the communities differ on several measures including the spatial clustering of turbines. Opposition is significantly predicted by: health, sitting process, economic benefits, and visual aesthetic variables. Though a majority supports the turbines we focus on the interplay of that majority with those experiencing negative impacts, particularly related to health. We highlight an asymmetry of impacts at the local level on those who oppose turbines, which is supported by rhetorical conflict at multiple scales. The findings point to the need for greater attention to mitigating impacts, including conflict, by understanding how sitting policies interact with social processes at the local level.
Full-text available
Article
The resilience of natural resource management (NRM) institutions are largely contingent on the capacities of the people and organizations within those institutions to learn, innovate, and adapt, both individually and collectively. These capacities may be powerfully constrained or catalyzed by the nature of the relationships between the various entities involved. Trust, in particular, has been identified repeatedly as a key component of institutional relationships that supports adaptive governance and successful NRM outcomes. We apply an ecological lens to a pre-existing framework to examine how different types of trust may interact to drive institutional resilience in NRM contexts. We present the broad contours of what we term “trust ecology,” describing a conceptual framework in which higher degrees of diversity of trust, as conceptualized through richness and evenness of four types of trust (dispositional, rational, affinitive, and systems based), enhance both the efficacy and resilience of NRM institutions. We describe the usefulness and some limitations of this framework based on several case studies from our own research and discuss the framework’s implications for both future research and designing more resilient governance arrangements.
Full-text available
Article
Community-based wind energy projects, with their small-scale, yet sizeable presence, provide a valuable opportunity to understand how individuals make sense of changes to their communities and to the surrounding landscape. Here, we examine the results of a 2013 mail survey of individuals residing in the vicinity of a 2 MW wind turbine that is located on the edge of the historic coastal town of Lewes, Delaware in the United States, and adjacent to Delaware Bay and the Great Marsh Preserve. The wind turbine, which was constructed in 2010, primarily serves the University of Delaware's coastal campus, and to a lesser extent the town of Lewes. Seventy-eight percent hold positive or very positive attitudes toward the wind turbine, with only 10% having negative or very negative attitudes, and 82% like the look of the wind turbine. Socially constructed aspects find more resonance than physical ones (e.g., attractiveness) in explaining this latter finding, with the wind turbine being reflective of a transformation to a clean energy future for those residents who like the way the turbine looks. On the other hand, those objecting to its look, find the turbine does not fit the landscape. Policy implications of these findings and others related to wind turbine sound are considered, and recommendations for better understanding of proposed developments from the vantage point of the affected communities, including how a community views itself and its surrounding landscape, are made.
Full-text available
Article
A national-local ‘gap’ is often used as the starting point for analyses of public responses to large scale energy infrastructures. We critique three assumptions found in that literature: the public's positive attitudes, without further examining other type of perceptions at a national level; that local perceptions are best examined through a siting rather than place-based approach; that a gap exists between national and local responses, despite a non-correspondence in how these are examined. Survey research conducted at national and local levels about electricity transmission lines in the UK confirm these criticisms. Results do not support a gap between national and local levels; instead, both differences and similarities were found. Results show the value of adopting a place-based approach and the role of surveys to inform policy making are discussed.
Full-text available
Article
Despite the long-recognized importance of trust in the natural resources manage-ment literature, few have drawn upon the breadth of other disciplines' investigations of trust to inform their work. This article represents an effort to break down the concept of trust into its component parts in an attempt to reorganize trust theory in a robust and practical way for collaborative natural resource management. We describe four forms of trust relevant to collaborative (and other forms of) natural resource management: dispositional trust, rational trust, affinitive trust, and procedural trust. By delineating different forms of trust, their antecedents, and their potential consequences for collaborative natural resource management, we aim to provide a useful and consistent lexicon and framework for use by researchers and practitioners in the human dimensions of natural resource management. Trust has repeatedly been identified as an important element of multiple forms of natural resource management processes and outcomes (Beierle and Konisky 2000; Davenport et al. 2007; Siegrist et al. 2000; Smith et al. 2013). For example, in a study of national parks in the United States and Ecuador, trust in protected areas authorities proved to be a key predictor of compliance with park regulations, with distrust predicting noncompliance (Stern 2008a). Trust held by community members for natural resource agencies has also been shown to increase public approval of management decisions This is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, trans-formed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named authors have been asserted.
Full-text available
Article
The current debate about quantitative and qualitative methods focuses on whether there is a necessary connection between method-type and research paradigm that makes the different approaches incompatible. This paper argues that part of the connection is rhetorical. Quantitative methods express the assumptions of a positvisit paradigm which holds that behavior can be explained through objective facts. Design and instrumentation persuade by showing how bias and error are eliminated. Qualitative methods express the assumptions of a phenomenological paradigm that there are multiple realities that are socially defined. Rich description persuades by showing that the researcher was immersed in the setting and giving the reader enough detail to “make sense” of the situation. While rhetorically different, the results of the two methodologies can be complementary. Examples are drawn from two studies using different methodologies to study the same problem.
Full-text available
Article
This paper explores the nature of public acceptance of wind farms by investigating the discourses of support and objection to a proposed offshore scheme. It reviews research into opposition to wind farms, noting previous criticisms that this has tended to provide descriptive rather than explanatory insights and as a result, has not effectively informed the policy debate. One explanation is that much of this research has been conceived within an unreflective positivist research frame, which is inadequate in dealing with the subjectivity and value-basis of public acceptance of wind farm development. The paper takes a case study of an offshore wind farm proposal in Northern Ireland and applies Q-Methodology to identify the dominant discourses of support and objection. It is argued that this provides new insights into the nature of wind farm conflicts, points to a number of recommendations for policy, and functions as an example of how this methodology can act as a potential bridge between positivist and post-positivist approaches to policy analysis.
Full-text available
Article
This reply to the commentary by E. Staub and L. A. Pearlman (2009) revisits the field experimental results of E. L. Paluck (2009). It introduces further evidence and theoretical elaboration supporting Paluck's conclusion that exposure to a reconciliation-themed radio soap opera changed perceptions of social norms and behaviors, not beliefs. Experimental and longitudinal survey evidence reinforces the finding that the radio program affected socially shared perceptions of typical or prescribed behavior-that is, social norms. Specifically, measurements of perceptions of social norms called into question by Staub and Pearlman are shown to correlate with perceptions of public opinion and public, not private, behaviors. Although measurement issues and the mechanisms of the radio program's influence merit further testing, theory and evidence point to social interactions and emotional engagement, not individual education, as the likely mechanisms of change. The present exchange makes salient what is at stake in this debate: a model of change based on learning and personal beliefs versus a model based on group influence and social norms. These theoretical models recommend very different strategies for prejudice and conflict reduction. Future field experiments should attempt to adjudicate between these models by testing relevant policies in real-world settings.
Full-text available
Article
Biologists and social scientists need one another, and must collectively direct more of their attention to understanding how social norms develop and change.
Article
While shifting electricity production to renewable sources is of critical importance in addressing global climate change, the costs of such development are often felt locally. This study explores what leads to support for wind development when respondents are asked to think about three different geographic scales: general, regional and within view of their home. Research was conducted in the Chignecto area of Atlantic Canada, a semi-rural area in which a prominent 15-turbine wind farm was constructed in 2012. A random population mail-out survey achieved a response rate of 40%. Questions explored exposure to wind turbines; support for wind energy development; place attachment; beliefs concerning the distribution of energy and benefits; and demographics. While most predictors of support are significant in bivariate correlations, many commonly used predictors of wind support, such as place attachment or community benefits, disappear or weaken under controls as predictors of support at smaller scales. Novel predictors of support inspired by climax thinking emerged as stronger at more local scales, including support for energy export beyond local needs and agreement that wind turbines provide a reminder of energy use. These results suggest new pathways for understanding support for wind development within the communities most directly affected.
Chapter
As renewable energy technologies evolve, how we think and talk about energy landscapes is also changing. Energy discourses shape our thinking, our reactions, and our sense of what is desirable or undesirable in the surrounding landscape. Understanding discourses as the subconscious organization of collectively held values and mental models (Lakoff, 2008) this chapter advances methodological innovations to identify subtle variations in discourses on energy production within and between regions of Canada. Two questions provide guidance for this study. Given that discourses on energy development are often context specific, are there ways of gaining local insight while also maintaining comparability across larger populations? What are the implications of better understanding regional and national-level discourses on energy development for transition to low-carbon energy futures? To answer these questions, we present results from mixed methods, involving Q methodology and a national survey of Canadian citizens. Ideas about norms are particularly relevant to this chapter, especially as they relate to personal expectations, aspirations, and a general sense of what is allowable and acceptable within energy landscapes. Furthermore, an analysis of discourses can offer insight into the ideologically mediated encounters with energy landscapes and the ways in which our ideas, expectations and aspirations can lock in a set of assumptions and preferences for future energy systems. As Malm’s (2016) historical analysis reminds us, however, culture and discourse offers tools to imagine something new, something other than business-as-usual, and perhaps some indication of how change can become imaginable. Building on these concepts, our results suggest that a singular and overarching set of governing logics, a national discourse, and associated tensions within the discourse are present and observable across national and regional scales. What we observe in the data (in spite of significant Canadian regional differences in energy technologies and policies) is a high degree of alignment between regional discourses and national discourses. The national discourse on energy development in Canada tends to overwhelm all of the variation that might exist within a local setting. We conclude with a discussion about overarching governing logics, ways of thinking and knowing about the world that are consistent with dominant ideas about capital, markets, corporate actors, and collective responsibilities. • Mixed-methods include a national survey of energy discourses and Q methodology conducted in three Canadian provinces (Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick). • With possibilities for diverse points of view to emerge within regions where energy technologies and policies differ, our study finds limited variation in discursive material across these regions. • We conclude that discourses around energy developments are almost entirely trapped by ideologies of neoliberalism and global logics of fossil capital.
Article
Free for 50 days at https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1aoBNcUG5EeOu **** As a means of understanding responses to landscape change, the concept of climax thinking proposes that communities resist changes because individuals view their current landscape as in its optimal state. We examined perceptions of past landscape change to help predict support for future change in the context of wind energy in the Chignecto area, Atlantic Canada. Change is this region includes a wind farm built in 2012 and the longer-term loss of four landscape features: dykes from the 1600s are being modified due to rising seas, foundries from the 1800s no longer exist, most giant hay barns from the 1800s have collapsed, and radio towers from WWII were dismantled. To assess local responses to these changes, we designed and randomly distributed a mail survey. The survey asked about exposure to turbines, support for wind energy, and demographics. Half the sample received images and descriptions of the four previous features, accompanied by questions about fit in the landscape and sadness at loss. These items were combined to create a climax thinking scale. Regression analysis reveals neither place attachment nor time in the region to be predictors of climax thinking, while male gender and conservative politics increase climax thinking. Conservatism decreases support for wind energy among people who can’t see turbines from home and is not significant for people who can. Climax thinking increases wind support among people who can see them from home but is not significant for people who can’t. Implications of results for renewable energy transitions are explored.
Book
Norms in the Wild takes a unique look at social norms, answering questions about diagnosis (how can we tell that a shared practice is a social norm?), measurement (how do we measure expectations and preferences?), and change (which tools can we adopt to effect norm change?). The theories developed in the book are brought to life by examining real-life cases of norm creation and abandonment, the rationale behind policy interventions, and how change can be spearheaded by various types of trendsetters, be they individuals, groups, or the media. By exploring how a range of problems, from poor sanitation to child marriage, can be addressed, the book shows how social norms can have a causal impact on collective behavior, and which interventions may succeed in creating new norms or abandoning harmful ones. In laying the theoretical groundwork for implementing social changes in a contextually sensitive and empirically based way, it also diagnoses why some less culturally attuned attempts to eliminate negative practices have failed.
Article
Relational values, or values that people hold on the basis of their relationships and responsibilities to society and the broader environment, are increasingly recognized as deeply important to human understanding of what is acceptable. This review argues that given that environmental impacts are mediated by relational values, in the sense that such values have a major effect on how impacts are experienced, environmental assessment processes designed to support infrastructure decisions should consider relational values explicitly. Currently, formal environmental assessment tools generally do not explicitly include societal values other than instrumental financial valuations, though the assessment community increasingly recognizes their significance. The environmental social sciences and humanities have produced substantial scholarship on relational values in communities experiencing environmental change, which can inform integration with environmental assessment.
Article
As the planet warms, new authoritarian movements in the West are embracing a toxic combination of climate denial, racism and misogyny. Rather than consider these resentments separately, this article interrogates their relationship through the concept of petro-masculinity, which appreciates the historic role of fossil fuel systems in buttressing white patriarchal rule. Petro-masculinity is helpful to understanding how the anxieties aroused by the Anthropocene can augment desires for authoritarianism. The concept of petro-masculinity suggests that fossil fuels mean more than profit; fossil fuels also contribute to making identities, which poses risks for post-carbon energy politics. Moreover, through a psycho-political reading of authoritarianism, I show how fossil fuel use can function as a violent compensatory practice in reaction to gender and climate trouble.
Article
Solar power (i.e., solar photovoltaic) accounts for about 0.3% of total electricity production in Canada. To enhance this contribution to energy supply from solar power, financial incentives and technological breakthroughs alone may not guarantee change. Drawing on a national survey of 2065 Canadian residents, we identify the determinants of technology adoption intention with the exemplary case of rooftop solar. Using a combination of latent and observed variables within a non-linear structural equation model, our analysis quantifies how a set of individual and community level factors affect adoption intention. Analysis reveals that the visibility of solar technology has a particularly strong effect on intention, lending support to social learning and social network theories of diffusion of innovation. Our findings also show that the perceived knowledge of energy systems and being publicly engaged in energy issues significantly increases adoption intention. These conclusions encourage policy options that enhance public engagement and the visibility of solar technology within neighborhoods and communities.
Article
Though there is a growing literature on the value of participatory siting processes for increasing local acceptance of wind energy development, there has been much less unpacking of how residents view the siting process itself. We explore differences in the ways governments and developers enact planning and how this impacts both acceptance/support and procedural justice outcomes. This mixed methods study employed in-depth interviews (n = 54) and surveys (n = 252) with multiple stakeholder groups to understand perceptions of procedural justice across two Canadian provinces. We compared Ontario – which has built a strong base of wind energy capacity using technocratic siting procedures with Nova Scotia – which has anchored its development strategy more explicitly with a community-based program. We find stronger levels of perceived procedural justice in Nova Scotia across the majority of principles tested. In Ontario, opposition to local developments was highly conflated with a lack of procedural justice including few opportunities to take part in siting. Across both provinces however, specific aspects of planning processes – mostly related to 'the ability to affect the outcome' – were strong predictors of local approval of wind. This paper closes with a discussion of how future policy programs can more effectively engage with principles of procedural justice.
Article
In light of the growing attention that social norm interventions have garnered as policy tools, we review the current body of evidence on their effectiveness with respect to pro-environmental behaviors. We identify the various conceptualizations of social norms currently in use and inventory the experimental economics and social psychology literature that has examined the impacts of social norm interventions on pro-environmental behavior. For each study included in this inventory, we note several contextual features, the data collection and analytical methods used, and any significant main effects attributed to the social norm intervention. We also review several theoretical models of behavior that incorporate social norms. Based on this empirical and theoretical review, we draw a number of policy implications and identify avenues for future research on the role of social norms with respect to pro-environmental behavior.
Article
To gain acceptance for renewable energy production sites, it is not sufficient to develop the appropriate technology without taking the social context and fairness concerns into account. Using a factorial survey experiment, we investigate the influence of both on the local acceptance of wind turbine developments in Germany and Poland http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2017.04.043 Poland–two countries differing in installed wind power capacity. Respondents were surveyed with hypothetical situations describing the construction of wind farms varying in the opportunity to participate in the planning process (participatory justice), the distribution of turbines across regions (distributive justice), and ownership, among other questions. We find higher acceptance levels in Poland than in Germany. Respondents in both countries are willing to accept new turbines in their vicinity if they can participate in decision making, the turbines are owned by a group of citizens, and if the generated electricity is consumed in the region instead of being exported. Overall, participatory justice is more important than distributive justice. Confirming previous results, we also find that respondents who already have turbines in their vicinity show higher acceptance levels than those who are not yet affected. Thus, the negative externalities are likely to be overestimated in the planning and implementation process.
Article
Research examining the relationship between trust, public engagement, and natural resource management asserts that trust fosters positive behavior and enhanced cooperation. Yet some scholars are finding that certain kinds of distrust are helpful in achieving democratic outcomes by providing would-be participants with the motivation to engage in issues of public concern. This article seeks to clarify this apparent disjuncture in the trust literature by examining the multidimensional nature of trust as it relates to public engagement on energy-related issues in Canada. Based on a national online survey (n = 3000) we use a binary probit model to explore the connections between trust, knowledge, and public engagement. About 70% of respondents had participated in at least one form of public engagement over the last 3 years. Drawing on a two-dimensional conception of trust, we find that general trust on its own is not positively linked to public engagement. A combination of general trust and skepticism, however, is positively associated with public engagement and confirms our hypothesis that at least some concern regarding credibility, bias, and vested interest can motivate public engagement. In this sense, trust is not uniformly good for public engagement. These results signal a need to further refine our assumptions about the relationship between public trust, public engagement and environmental governance.
Article
Formal models are commonly used in natural resource management (NRM) to study human-environment interactions and inform policy making. In the majority of applications, human behaviour is represented by the rational actor model despite growing empirical evidence of its shortcomings in NRM contexts. While the importance of accounting for the complexity of human behaviour is increasingly recognized, its integration into formal models remains a major challenge. The challenges are multiple: i) there exist many theories scattered across the social sciences, ii) most theories cover only a certain aspect of decision-making, iii) they vary in their degree of formal-ization, iv) causal mechanisms are often not specified. We provide a framework-MoHuB (Modelling Human Behavior)-to facilitate a broader inclusion of theories on human decision-making in formal NRM models. It serves as a tool and common language to describe, compare and communicate alternative theories. In doing so, we not only enhance understanding of commonalities and differences between theories, but take a first step towards tackling the challenges mentioned above. This approach may enable modellers to find and formalize relevant theories , and be more explicit and inclusive about theories of human decision making in the analysis of social-ecological systems.
Article
A growing area of research has addressed public perception of unconventional oil and natural gas development via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). We extend this research by examining how geographic proximity to such extraction interacts with political ideology to influence issue support. Regression analysis of data from a fall 2013 national telephone survey of United States residents reveals that as respondents’ geographic distance from areas experiencing significant development increases, political ideology becomes more strongly associated with issue support, with the liberal-partisan divide widening. Our findings support construal level theory's central premise: that people use more abstract considerations (like political ideology) the more geographically removed they are from an issue. We discuss implications for studying public opinion of energy development as well as for risk communication.
Article
Landscape impacts are commonly cited as barriers to new energy infrastructure, but rarely are perceptions of such impacts monitored over time. Built in the mid-1960s, the Mactaquac hydroelectric generating station in New Brunswick, Canada, is degrading, and its future is under review. We took locals on houseboats to learn how they felt about the dam, the landscape it altered, and the future of the facility. Using the concept of cultural imaginaries we observe important themes about how landscape changes are experienced, perceived and reinterpreted by local residents over time. Despite the initial trauma of construction, most residents expressed a deep sense of place, identity and appreciation of the headpond’s aesthetic and recreational value, as well as its renewable energy. Our methods revealed social pressures at play: collective discussions endorsed keeping the headpond intact, whether or not energy continues to be produced, while individuals alone were more likely to appreciate the former river, with some participants privately open to its restoration. The establishment within a generation of connection to this site of energy production suggests the value of taking a long view to understanding landscape transitions, which cuts both ways, providing possible consolation to proponents of renewable and conventional energy alike.
Article
Drawing inspiration from the literature on social imaginaries and cultural models, this study explores contending perspectives on energy and sustainability, moving beyond a simplistic understanding of support or opposition to specific energy developments. With a comparative study in three regions of Canada, we use Q methodology to identify five key discourses on energy issues: (1) climate change is a primary concern, (2) maintain the energy economy, (3) build on the resilience of nature and local energy systems, (4) markets and corporations will lead and (5) renewable energy sources are the path forward. We find several under-examined perspectives on energy and society – one discourse that attempts to balance growth in the energy economy with environmental concern and another discourse that promotes the resilience of natural and local energy systems. We also find a proclivity towards science, ingenuity and technological innovation as a strategy to resolve contemporary challenges in the energy sector. This study helps to elaborate energy policy conversations beyond the common environment versus economy tropes. The study also reveals opportunities to forge common ground and mutual understanding on complex debates.
Article
Uncertainties about the consequences of natural resource management mean that managers are required to make difficult judgements. However, research in behavioural economics, psychology and behavioural decision theory has shown that people, including managers, are subject to a range of biases in their perceptions and judgements. Based on an interpretative survey of these literatures, we identify particular biases that are likely to impinge on the operation and success of natural resource management. We discuss these in the particular context of adaptive management, an approach that emphasises learning from practical experience to reduce uncertainties. The biases discussed include action bias, the planning fallacy, reliance on limited information, limited reliance on systematic learning, framing effects and reference-point bias. Agencies should be aware of the influence of biases when adaptive management decisions are undertaken. We propose several ways to reduce these biases.
Article
While the idea of democracy has never been more universal or more popular, both democratic theory and the empirical study of democratic possibilities are in some disarray. We seek a productive reconnection of these two endeavors with democratic discourse through close attention to the language of democracy as used by ordinary people and political actors. Reconstructive inquiry determines how the individuals who are the potential constituents of any democratic order themselves conceptualize democracy and their own political roles and competences. We deploy an intensive method—Q methodology—for the study of individual characteristics, capabilities, and dispositions in combination with political discourse analysis. Four discourses are discovered in an analysis of selected U.S. subjects: contented republicanism, deferential conservatism, disaffected populism, and private liberalism. These results can be used to relate democratic theory to live possibilities in democratic discourse.
Article
The promotion of low carbon energy and associated infrastructures for tackling climate change is a central task for governments worldwide. However, public and, mainly, local, opposition to those infrastructures may slow down or even halt that process. Thus, in the last few years a body of research has developed specifically to understand the social acceptance of technologies such as wind turbines or bioenergy plants. We argue that the use of ‘acceptance’ in this literature should be further discussed. We contend that using the word ‘acceptance’ may present some constraints for the theoretical advancement of this area of research and to the implications that may be taken from it to the wider society. This is further highlighted through the presentation of findings from surveys conducted with nationally representative samples from the UK and Norway which examined their acceptance of and support for new high voltage power lines. We conclude by suggesting that the literature on public responses towards low carbon energy and associated infrastructures should be more critical in the conceptualisation of its research agenda, become empirically more consistent and transparent, and examine other types of relations between people and energy infrastructures besides acceptance or opposition.
Article
Australia's renewable energy target (RET) seeks to provide 20 per cent of Australia's electricity generation from renewable energy sources by 2020. As wind power is relatively advanced, it was anticipated that wind power will contribute a major component of the early target. However, high levels of societal resistance to wind farms, combined with new regulatory policies, indicate the RET may not be dominated by wind power. This research involved an examination of seven case studies around wind farm deployment. Qualitative interviews were the primary data for the case studies and analysed using methods informed by grounded theory. Despite the diversity of stakeholder views, the qualitative analysis identified strong community support for wind farms but four common themes emerged that influence this societal acceptance of wind farms in Australia: trust, distributional justice, procedural justice and place attachment. Without addressing these factors through integration into policy development and engagement approaches, wind energy is unlikely to provide the early and majority of new renewable energy. Similar international experiences are incorporated in the discussion of the Australian wind industry's societal acceptance
Article
In response to the threat of climate change, many governments have set policy goals to rapidly and extensively increase the use of renewable energy in order to lessen reliance upon fossil fuels and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Such policy goals are ambitious, given past controversies over large-scale renewable energy projects, particularly onshore wind farms, that have occurred in many countries and involved bitter disputes between private developers and local ‘NIMBYs’ (not in my backyard) protestors. This article critically reviews recent research into how public engagement is conceived and practiced by policy makers and developers, with a specific focus upon the UK. The review reveals a distinction between different scales of technology deployment, with active public engagement only promoted at smaller scales, and a more passive role promoted at larger scales. This passive role stems from the influence of widely held NIMBY conceptions that presume the public to be an ‘ever present danger’ to development, arising from a deficit in factual knowledge and a surfeit of emotion, to be marginalized through streamlined planning processes and one-way engagement mechanisms. It is concluded that NIMBYism is a destructive, self-fulfilling way of thinking that risks undermining the fragile, qualified social consent that exists to increase renewable energy use. Breaking the cycle of NIMBYism requires new ways of thinking and practicing public engagement that better connect national policy making with local places directly affected by specific projects. Such a step would match the radical ambitions of rapid increases in renewable energy use with a process of change more likely to facilitate its achievement. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 19–26 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.89 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
Article
Two myths about qualitative research are that real qualitative researchers do not count and cannot count. These antinumber myths have led to the underutilization of numbers in qualitative research and to the simplistic view of qualitative research as non- or antinumber. Yet numbers are integral to qualitative research, as meaning depends, in part, on number. As in quantitative research, numbers are used in qualitative research to establish the significance of a research project, to document what is known about a problem, and to describe a sample. But they are also useful for showcasing the labor and complexity of qualitative work and to generate meaning from qualitative data; to document, verify, and test researcher interpretations or conclusions; and to re-present target events and experiences. Although numbers are important in the treatment of qualitative data, qualitative researchers should avoid the counting pitfalls of verbal counting, overcounting, misleading counting, and acontextual counting. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 24: 230–240, 2001
Article
Decisions concerning the siting of infrastructure developments or the use of natural resources have the potential to damage a community's social well-being if the outcomes are perceived to be unfair. Justice is accepted as central to the well functioning of society with fairness being an expectation in day-to-day interactions. Outcomes that are perceived to be unfair can result in protests, damaged relationships and divided communities particularly when decisions are made which benefit some sections of the community at the perceived expense of others. Through empirical research using a wind farm pilot study, community perceptions of a community consultation process are explored using procedural justice principles to evaluate fairness. Findings from the pilot study indicate that perceptions of fairness do influence how people perceive the legitimacy of the outcome, and that a fairer process will increase acceptance of the outcome. A key research finding was that different sections of a community are likely to be influenced by different aspects of justice, namely by outcome fairness, outcome favourability and process fairness. Based on this finding, a community fairness framework was developed which has potential application in community consultation to increase social acceptance of the outcome.
Article
Taking rational choice theory for granted, cooperation in social dilemmas may be seen as mysterious. In one-shot dilemmas where subjects unknown to one another interact and make their decisions anonymously, cooperation could even be regarded as lunacy. Several authors have challenged this view, though. Research has also identified various factors that imply why people cooperate or defect in social dilemmas and what motivations that might guide the decision in one way or the other. Here, a closer look will be taken at social norms as a reason for departure from rational choice, a factor that rarely has been recognised in the social dilemma literature. Social norms imply that people should manifest a prescribed behaviour or not manifest a proscribed behaviour. Furthermore, social norms are often guiding behaviour in specific contexts, and many times they need to be activated. Such an activation process is often unconscious and once a norm has been activated, people tend to keep following the norm that has been primed. We wish to add to the social dilemma literature by suggesting what kinds of norms that are likely to be activated under different conditions such as one-shot vs. iterated dilemmas, but also separate domains of social life.