Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How the stories of ordinary people could give them more say over planning decisions

28.01.2005


Stories in their own words from men and women directly caught up in debates and controversies over threats from technologies to themselves and their environment are to be recorded and analysed in new research sponsored by the ESRC.



This new approach, which pays much more attention to how ordinary people understand risks in the context of their everyday lives, could give them a greater say with planners and policy-makers, according to Professor Nick Pidgeon, who is leading a project team at the University of East Anglia.

The study will concentrate on gathering stories - or narratives - from two contrasting communities in Essex – one that has lived for a number of years with a nuclear power station, at Bradwell-on-Sea, and the other close to a major UK airport, at Stansted.


Researchers using this ‘narrative approach’ will explore people’s assumptions and values through the stories they tell about their experiences of the risks involved in the place where they live.

Previously, much research of this kind has come from the fields of economics and psychology, trying to assess people’s opinions and values through formal questionnaires. But new methods already in use in various types of social sciences research, such as studies of family relationships, produce narratives of people talking in-depth about how a topic forms part of their life-histories.

Now, for the first time, these methods are to be used in an investigation aimed at giving far greater insights into the social, cultural and other factors which lie behind people’s attitudes and reactions to technological risks to themselves and to their environment. It will also be possible to explore various local influences on people’s understandings of technological risks, and track how they develop and sustain particular values.

Professor Pidgeon said: “Complex new technologies create uncertainties over their risks, and governments have to be involved in planning and managing these. Often, however, they know very little about how people will respond to particular developments. “We are now aware that the issue is not simply one of ‘educating away’ public misunderstanding of what is best, as recent controversies over GM foods and the siting of mobile phone masts have clearly demonstrated. “Ordinary people’s accounts, in their own everyday language, are an essential ingredient in the whole process of drawing up plans and making important environmental decisions.”

Professor Pidgeon argues that people’s experience of environmental risk and their response to it is bound up with their own identity and sense of place. And this can only be captured through sensitive interviewing at the location concerned.

This sort of approach is also the best way to investigate the culture of a particular place and the way risks are interpreted locally, he says.

Professor Pidgeon added: “A key aim of our project is to offer some insight into how gathering the stories of people in this way can help in the deliberations between them and the authorities, and ultimately lead to decisions which are acceptable to all sectors of society”

Becky Gammon | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>