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Title: Assessment and appraisal concepts in environmental policy and management
Author: Scrase, James Ivan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 3332
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2006
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A range of appraisal methods is widely used in the public sector to assess the anticipated environmental consequences of projects. UK, European and US governments have sought to extend the use of such appraisals, for example to regional planning and to policy development. This creates challenges that demand interpretation and debate, but much academic comment is divided into two polarised positions. One advocates appraisals as a set of administrative or scientific 'tools' used to improve decision-making, while the other critiques them as social technologies used to transform properly political questions into managerial and technical ones. A critique of mainstream literature on appraisal and a historical study of its uses by governments demonstrate this intellectual tension. The research then develops and applies a social constructionist perspective that brings together the critics' and proponents' concerns. The ideas and practices constituting appraisals are approached here as resources which are drawn from, and embedded in, wider discourses that shape environmental politics. The research focuses attention on how these resources are defined, produced and drawn upon in academic debate and in practical contexts. A set of research questions is developed and answered through qualitative research into the Environment Agency of England and Wales' work. First the framing of flood defence as a political project is investigated, and interview data are used in a discourse analysis of experts' contemporary arguments about the sector. Three shorter, procedural case studies then focus on the social construction and use of specific appraisals. Themes of 'context', 'framing' and 'participation' structure the analysis and differing conceptions of their relevance and meaning are highlighted. The research concludes that a social constructionist perspective, informed by insights into the nature of discourse and the role of experts in policy- and decision-making, is needed to promote a more critical and context-aware debate about assessment.
Supervisor: Sheate, William ; Potter, Clive ; Reed, Potter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available