Framing in geographical analysis of environmental conflicts: Theory, methodology and three case studies

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    ing and facilitate compromise or resolution.When applied to environmental concerns, understanding and

    being able to elicit interested parties frames offers indispensableinformation for dealing with complex issues relevant to geographyas well as planning and environmental studies. Geographers havelong worked with information about environmental perceptionand behavior, applying observational and narrative methods tothe study of how people perceive, understand and interpret events

    control of territory and resources; the impact of spatial patternsand structures on the siting of noxious facilities; and, more gener-ally, as a basis for creating a rich, informative and nuanced mode ofanalysis that can contribute helpful insights to the understandingand managing of human habitats in relation to the physicalenvironment. Framing not only deals with the power relationshipsbetween disputants and imbalances in the information bases thatshape different perceptions, but it also explicates the values andgoals that each party holds, pointing to avenues of compromisewhereby all may gain.

    Geoforum 39 (2008) 20482061

    Contents lists availab

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    lseE-mail address: deborah@geo.haifa.ac.ilFraming is a cognitive process whereby individuals and groupslter their perceptions, interpretations and understandings ofcomplex situations in ways consistent with their own socio-polit-ical, economic and cultural world views and experiences. The prac-tical utility of using framing as an analytical approach in managingenvironmental disputes is to clarify, simplify and communicate tothe parties within the conict the underlying roots of their respec-tive positions and interests in order to further mutual understand-

    groups construct their world views as an explanatory basis for theirattitudes and actions, none of these methodologies have developedcomparative databases that facilitate and validate such analyses.

    The purpose of this article is to introduce framing, and method-ology that can elicit or capture it, to address planning and environ-mental issues that have a strong spatial component frequently atthe heart of geographers studies: disputes over land ownershipand uses; competition for water resources; cultural clashes overtal conicts, planning disputes and other concerns of geographers.

    cally framing, may be a means of uniting the study of environmen- use and narratives, appreciating mutually understood norms and

    routines. Whereas Hajer does delve into how individuals and1. Introduction

    In the book review symposiumfuture, Agnew (2006) observed thahas become increasingly fragmentedtes it is methodological approacheshaps of what still gives some unityssiparous eld . . . the most useful cmethods ones. (Agnew, 2006, p. 110016-7185/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. Adoi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2008.08.006raphy past, geographytime when geographyscipline, what best uni-rites: It is telling per-otherwise increasinglys in both books are thethodology, and speci-

    and issues (e.g. Lynch, 1960; Lowenthal, 1961; Burton and Kates,1964; Wright, 1966; Brookeld, 1969; Saarinen, 1976; Blaut,1987; Aitken et al., 1989; McGregor, 2004; Atkinson andDelamont,2006). Social psychologists Foucault (1966), Harre (1993) and Billig(1987) used discourse analysis to separate knowledge from ideasas a means of avoiding presuppositions. Hajer (1995) takes the con-cepts of this group and applies their method to contemporary pol-icy-making and looks at how language creates realities. Discourseanalysis and framing have a lot in common: text analysis, languageHuman geographic analysisIsraeli spatial land conicts

    2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Framing in geographical analysis of envirTheory, methodology and three case stud

    Deborah F. ShmueliDepartment of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905,

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Received 20 February 2008Received in revised form 20 August 2008

    Keywords:Framing theoryFraming elicitation toolsGeographical environmental disputes

    a b s t r a c t

    When applied to environmwith potentially practicalpose of this article is to inwhich geographers commresources, cultural clashesand structures when sitingict in Israel and, more ghuman habitats in relation

    Geof

    journal homepage: www.ell rights reserved.nmental conicts:s

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    tal concerns, framing offers a rigorous conceptual and analytic approachicance for dealing with complex issues relevant to geography. The pur-uce framing concepts, typology and modes of analysis to address issuesy treat: disputes over land ownership and uses, competition for waterer control of territory and resources and the impact of spatial patternsious sites. Framing analysis is applied to three cases of environmental con-rally, for understanding conicts revolving around the management ofthe physical environment.

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  • reduce pollution within the Lower Kishon River Basin. The lessonslearned from these cases are relevant not only for Israel but for

    m 3many countries in the world.The article will rst provide an overview of the approach, and

    then present the three case studies. The analytical tools commonlyused in framing have been further developed by the author andcolleagues for future application specically to environmental con-icts in Israel and elsewhere (Shmueli et al., 2006). The three casesillustrate how framing analysis can be employed in different tradi-tions of geographic research to assess the complicated relation-ships between human societies and natural environments,examine the interplay of different cultures and explore the impactof spatial patterns on human behavior.

    The concept of framing evolved at the intersection of severaldisciplines, and is best seen as a social science approach to decod-ing and making sense of peoples behavior especially in situationswhere decisions have to be made. In the literature, it has been of-fered and dened as a concept that can be usefully applied indecision-making (e.g. Kahneman and Tversky, 1979); articialintelligence (e.g. Minsky, 1975); negotiations (e.g. Neale and Baz-erman, 1985; Gray, 1989; Pinkley, 1990); environmental conictmanagement (e.g.Stern et al., 1986; Lewicki and Davis, 1996; Gray,1997; Kaufman and Smith, 1999; Vaughan and Seifert, 1992;Elliottet al., 2003; Shmueli and Ben-Gal, 2004); psychology and sociol-ogy (e.g. Goffman, 1974; Gonos, 1977; Taylor, 2000); social move-ment theory and place framing (Martin, 2003; Larsen, 2008). Ithas also been applied in the eld of business management (e.g.Watzlawick et al., 1974; Goldratt, 1990). In all these applications,the use of framing has been retrospective and summative: analy-ses have looked back at events and their connection to frameselicited from main actors. In this application, it will also be usedas a tool for future actions that may help reconcile differencesand disputes.

    As cognitive devices, frames are interpretive lenses throughwhich we see and make sense of complex situations in waysinternally consistent with our world views, giving meaning toevents in the context of life experience, understandings, and roles.As strategic communicative devices, frames help rationalize self-interest, persuade broader audiences, build coalitions or promotepreferred outcomes. Conicts rooted in geographical stakes (land,location and natural resources) are associated with complex andmutually reinforcing frames about oneself, others (characteriza-tion frames), risks, what information should apply to the situation,and how decisions should be made. The three case studiespresented in this paper have important geographical stakes andillustrate well the interpretive and strategic uses of frames incontested situations.

    2. Frames and framing overview

    The word frame can be used both as a noun (a frame) and as averb (to frame). As a noun, frame connotes the boundary withinwhich a picture is displayed and set apart from the background;it plays a ltering role in perception, interpretation and under-standing of specic situations. The verb to frame refers to theThree empirically-based case studies of environmental conictsin Israel illustrate how framing concepts and methods employed inthis paper can be developed and deployed, and the degree to whichthey can be helpful in managing or resolving the disputes. Theseare (1) the siting of the Dudaim National Waste Disposal Facility;(2) the Arab Town of Sachnins legal struggle to expand its munici-pal boundaries; and (3) the conicts stemming from proposals to

    D.F. Shmueli / Geoforucrafting of a frame, whether deliberately or not, during communi-cation. Depending on the context, it may be used to conceptualizeand interpret, or manipulate and persuade.While there are several perspectives on frames and how theyare generated, one research stream casts frames as cognitive de-vices, while the other stresses its communicative role. In the cogni-tive view, frames help individuals cut through complexity byltering, simplifying and categorizing in-coming information(e.g., Lewicki et al., 1999; Taylor, 2000; Goldratt, 1990; KahnemanandTverski, 1979; Neale andBazerman, 1985; Vaughan andSeifert,1992). These cognitive structures help to reduce information over-load, and operate as models of reality that trade detail for clarity.Such frames help to make sense of the situation, identifying andinterpreting aspects that seem key to understanding, and relegat-ing some information to the background as less important. An indi-viduals frames, often but not always coincident with those of thegroup, help to organize phenomena into coherent, understandablecategories, giving meaning to some observed aspe