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Environmental science, economics, and policy: A context-sensitive approach to understanding the use of evidence in policy-making

Lawton, Ricky (2014) Environmental science, economics, and policy: A context-sensitive approach to understanding the use of evidence in policy-making. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The scale of human impacts on the environment means that ecological and environmental sciences are strongly motivated by the need to take urgent measures to halt environmental damage, to conserve at-risk species and ecosystems, and to preserve rapidly depleting stocks of natural resources. Resource and time constraints mean that actions must be taken with clarity, direction and, crucially, impact. Evidence that informs policy decisions operates alongside a range of other societal considerations, which may be economic, moral, social, and political. Science is one of many inputs to the decision-making process. Policy change occurs within social parameters that are influenced by a range of non-evidentiary, contextual, and policy factors. This thesis explores the intermittent variables and strategic factors that bring conservation science to the forefront of environmental policy at any one time. These include the construction of strategic narratives that communicate scientific information in the policy arena, the interaction between expert credibility and policy relevance, and the role of pre-existing values and beliefs on the passage of evidence from scientific production to societal decisions. I applied mixed-methods approaches to the analysis of Internet surveys, face-to-face interviews with key policy actors, and cluster analysis of belief scale responses across UK and USA case studies. I applied a number of policy and science-technology frameworks and applied methodological approaches to understanding the role of evidence in the policy process. Overall, the findings of this thesis suggest that non-evidentiary factors in the policy arena interact with scientific evidence through a range of contextual variables. These include professional values, interest group interactions, the power and salience of influential individuals, and the trans-scientific strength of strategic policy narratives and evidence from different disciplines. This has important implications for how policy-makers use evidence, and should shape the research community’s understanding and approach to research coproduction, communication, and evaluation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Environment (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.643661
Depositing User: Dr Ricky Lawton
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2015 14:48
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8660

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