Thursday, June 20, 2013

Contrasting frames in policy debates on climate change adaptation

Just published on-line in WIREs Climate Change: “Contrasting frames in policy debates on climate change adaptation”. I was invited to write this "Focus Article" for one of the Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews journals, which means it’s not reporting on original research but reviewing existing studies on framing climate change adaptation, and indicating some avenues for future research.

Contrasting frames in policy debates on climate change adaptation

The process by which issues, decisions, or events acquire different meanings from different perspectives has been studied as framing. In policy debates about climate change adaptation, framing the adaptation issue is a challenge with potentially farreaching implications for the shape and success of adaptation projects. From the
available literature on howthemeaning of climate change adaptation is constructed and debated, three key dimensions of frame differences were identified: (1) the tension between adaptation and mitigation as two contrasting but interrelated perspectives on climate change; (2) the contrast between framing climate change
adaptation as a tame technical problem, and framing climate change as a wicked problem of governance; and (3) the framing of climate change adaptation as a security issue, contrasting state security frames with human security frames. It is argued that the study of how climate change adaptation gets framed could be enriched by connecting these dimensions more closely with the following themes in framing research: (1) how decision-making biases lead to framing issues as structured technical problems; (2) the process of scale framing by which issues are situated at a particular scale level; and (3) the challenge of dealing with the variety of frames in adaptation processes.

The paper can be found or downloaded here

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Framing scale increase in Dutch agricultural policy 1950–2012

Maartje van Lieshout, who is close to finishing her dissertation at our group, has published an article about scale framing in agricultural policy in NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences. This time, a historical data set of policy documents dating back to 1950 serves as the basis to analyze continuity and change in the framing of scale increase in agriculture.

Framing scale increase in Dutch agricultural policy 1950–2012
M. van Lieshout, A. Dewulf, N. Aarts,  C. Termeer

In this paper, we study how agricultural policy, and particularly how scale increase, has been framed by the responsible ministers over the last six decades. We analyse the different interpretations attached to scale increase and other policy issues, in a longitudinal study of the memoranda accompanying the yearly national budget for the Ministry of Agriculture. Our analysis provides a nuanced explanation for the continuous use of the contested concept of scale increase. We show that the framing of Dutch agricultural policy has undergone considerable changes regarding issues and solutions, the role of international policy and issues from other policy domains. We find that the policy and the policy frames have become more diverse, interdependencies have increased and as a result policy has become more complex and self-referential. Part of our findings can be explained as the occurrence of a paradigm shift. However this does not explain the continuous presence of the logic of scale increase as the way forward for Dutch agriculture. We state that the self-referential agricultural policy system has aimed to continuously improve itself by means of scale increase, without discussing or critically reflecting on the functioning of the system itself. In this process language played a powerful role: changing the language helped to maintain the existing system or paradigm in which scale increase is continuously positively framed as the solution for Dutch agriculture.

The paper can be found at or downloaded below.