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Environmental conflicts and deliberative solutions?: A case study of public participation in EIA in Sweden
Örebro University, Department of Social and Political Sciences.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to analyse a case of public involvement in environmental decision-making. The thesis asks what mechanisms can include or exclude the public, in the sense of giving or denying opportunities to express views and to influence the process. The empirical case is an airport development and one specific form of public involvement, EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment). The case is theorised and contextualised in relation to deliberative democracy, sociology of knowledge, social anthropology, cultural geography, risk and planning research.

The case study is presented in four papers. In relation to the EIA process for the planned extension of Örebro-Bofors Airport in Sweden, the following questions are asked: how can the EIA be understood (1) as an open arena for evaluating the three dimensions of sustainable development, (2) as a quasi-legal process; (3) how do local people perceive noise and how did they react to the handling of airport noise in the EIA; and (4) how did local people act within and outside the EIA to influence the process.

The research approach used is case study analysis. The case study is based on public records as well as interviews with residents in the vicinity of the airport and active members of the local protest group. The focus of the study is on local people's objectives, responses and actions.

The study concludes that the case in question was characterised by exclusion rather than inclusion of the public. The general exclusion mechanisms identified are the ways of thinking and talking about the environment in dominating discourses of sustainable development and risk, as well as institutional constraints because of the dominant role of the developer and administrators. Furthermore, it was shown that local people had more complex views of airport noise than was captured by the standardised used in the EIA. When local people found that the EIA process was not an arena in which they could make their claims heard, they found other, creative ways of acting and of influencing the process.

It is argued that a traditional perspective on planning and participation is too narrow to understand public participation in EIA. Environmental conflicts, in this case and others, indicate that citizens wish to participate in discussions of what makes political decisions legitimate and good for all. From the perspective of deliberative democracy, public participation can be understood as a matter of forcing social problems, based in experiences from individual lifeworlds, to be attended to by the political and administrative systems that can deal with them. This is an ongoing process and it is important to recognise public involvement in processes such as EIA's as well as actions outside them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitetsbibliotek , 2002. , p. 188
Series
Örebro Studies in Sociology, ISSN 1650-2531 ; 5
Keywords [en]
public participation, public involvement, EIA, Environmental Impact Assessment, environmental conflict, deliberative democracy, airport noise, airport development, planning, risk, sociologi
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-37ISBN: 91-7668-317-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-37DiVA, id: diva2:136716
Public defence
2002-11-29, Hörsal D, Örebro universitet, Örebro, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2002-11-29 Created: 2002-11-29 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Transport infrastructure investment and environmental impact assessment in Sweden: public involvement or exclusion?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transport infrastructure investment and environmental impact assessment in Sweden: public involvement or exclusion?
2000 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 32, no 8, p. 1465-1479Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper we discuss whether environmental impact assessment (EIA) can serve as an arena for including citizens in the decisionmaking process. Through a case study of a proposed extension of a regional airport in Sweden, the role of EIA, and to what degree different actors and arguments influenced the decision, is analysed. It is found that there are serious problems concerning public participation when it comes to projects which extend beyond the local level and which play an important part in the regional economy. In these cases there is a risk, despite the aims of EIA, that the process will be characterised by public exclusion rather than by public involvement.

National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15913 (URN)10.1068/a32228 (DOI)000088879400009 ()
Available from: 2011-06-14 Created: 2011-06-14 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
2. Noise and newts: public engagement in the UK and Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Noise and newts: public engagement in the UK and Sweden
2003 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 23, no 1, p. 17-37Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There are many incentives to improve public participation involvement in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public inquiries not least because the conflicts arising from protests against new developments are practical problems that need to be solved. This paper addresses the ambition of promoting public participation in EIA. In doing this, it illustrates how legal or quasi-legal processes, such as EIA and public inquiries facilitate or restrain public involvement. Two cases of airport developments are compared: the EIA process for the planned extension of the airport in Örebro, Sweden and the public inquiry process for the planned extension of the airport in Manchester, UK. The concluding section discusses how the requirement to achieve efficient public involvement could be met.

Keywords
Environmental impact assessment, Public participation, UK, Sweden
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15915 (URN)10.1016/S0195-9255(02)00057-4 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-06-14 Created: 2011-06-14 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
3. Hearing as a way of dwelling: the active sense-making of environmental risk and nuisance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hearing as a way of dwelling: the active sense-making of environmental risk and nuisance
2004 (English)In: Environment & Planning. D, Society and Space, ISSN 0263-7758, E-ISSN 1472-3433, Vol. 22, no 5, p. 737-753Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The goal of integrating a broad set of stakeholders and local knowledges in environmental decisionmaking can come into conflict with the aim of effectively regulating environmental change through the establishment of standardised methods. In this paper I explore public perceptions of environmental change as active sense-making with respect to a particular aspect of the environment-sounds and noise. I use a case study of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for the planned extension of an airport in Sweden. I focus on how local citizens reacted to the issue of airport noise as discussed in the EIA, as well as on local perceptions of noise. Analysis of local peoples' perceptions of environmental change raises questions concerning the meaning of environmental protection versus individual rights, the population affected by a development, and the issue of financial compensation versus commitment to dialogue. These questions must be raised in order to assess whether EIA fulfils its goal of increasing dialogue and building more participatory structures within the planning process.

National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15912 (URN)10.1068/d300t (DOI)000224642000007 ()
Available from: 2011-06-14 Created: 2011-06-14 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
4. "I thought the facts would make difference": a case study of public involvment in EIA
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"I thought the facts would make difference": a case study of public involvment in EIA
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15916 (URN)
Available from: 2011-06-14 Created: 2011-06-14 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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