Presentation on theme: "1 A social scientific approach of environment & health in policy practice Hans Keune (University of Antwerp) Reporter: Fred Woudenberg (Netherlands) Synthesising."— Presentation transcript:
1 A social scientific approach of environment & health in policy practice Hans Keune (University of Antwerp) Reporter: Fred Woudenberg (Netherlands) Synthesising Research results of the Flemish Centre of Expertise for Environment and Health Brussels, 15 December 2006
2 What do scientists of the Centre for Environment & Health study? What do social scientists of the Centre for Health & Environment (E&H) study? …medical experts study health effects: …toxicologists study pollutants:
3 Social actors in Environment & Health… Social scientist Medical expert Toxicologist Minister of envir. Minister of health Dep. of health Dep. of envir. Envir. org Industr. org Ordinary citizen Group of local people discussing envir. & health
4 … having a lot of (research) questions Typical social scientist A social scientist in the Centre for Environment & Health …
5 Who will a social scientist turn to… …when feeling ill? or …in case of an environmental problem? or …when feeling down and out about work in the Centre for Environment & Health? Social scientist Medical expert Toxicologist
6 Who will a social scientist turn to… Social scientist Medical expert Toxicologist Minister of envir. Minister of health Dep. of health Dep. of envir. …for discussing policy relevant scientific research on environment & health?
7 Division of professional labour Different scientific disciplines: medical, environmental, social science Different responsibilities: science & policy Different perspectives, knowledge, questions, expectations, agendas
8 Who will a social scientist turn to… Social scientist Medical expert Toxicologist Minister of envir. Minister of health Dep. of health Dep. of envir. Envir. org Industr. org Ordinary citizen Group of local people discussing envir. & health …for discussing the societal meaning of environment & health data? In principle: all of them…
9 Two main research questions 1. What is the societal meaning of knowledge on E&H? (knowledge production & use) 2. How can social science best fit in with other research in Centre E&H? (social scientific approach)
10 1.a Knowledge in general System knowledge: nature of a problem and complex constellation of relevant parameters (empirical aspects) Target knowledge: diversity of problem related visions, opinions, norms & values, goals (normative aspects) Transformation knowledge: practical solutions & opportunities (pragmatic aspects)
11 1.b Knowledge on E&H What is socially relevant knowledge on E&H? Who are relevant knowledge providers? What is the societal meaning of knowledge on E&H? What translation to practice is possible? (e.g. policy practice)
12 1.c Object - process Social scientific reflex: too much an object oriented approach; lack of attention for process aspects Extra research question: how can socially relevant knowledge be generated?
13 1.d Example: action plan What to do with the biomonitoring data? First reflex of science & policy (more object oriented & expert focus): pile up more & more scientific data, knowledge Social scientific reflex (more process oriented & societal perspective): –Whose knowledge and interpretation is relevant? –Main criteria of interpretation? (+ policy & society) –Decision making procedure + communication Cooperative Result: process of knowledge collection-interpret.-prioritization-pract. translation; involving experts, policymakers & society; desk research, expert round, jury
14 2. Social scientific approach 2.a Social scientific methods.. 2.b Social scientific reflection.. 2.c Exemplary action research..
15 2.a Social scientific methods.. Multi method/mixed methods/triangulation: one central research question (focus groups, juries, Delphi round, risk perception, risk communication) Other actors (want to) use these methods more and more (e.g. participation) Social scientific research on process of knowledge production-interpretation-use
16 2.b Social scientific reflection.. Boundary work: debate, cooperation... –Different scientific disciplines –Science & policy –Science & policy & society Example: interviews actors C of E&H: –Scientists & policy representatives –Some conclusions: Lack of time & attention for these specific aspects Traditional (disciplinary) org of science is a barrier Need for a societal perspective in the work
17 2.c Exemplary action research.. Action (practice) oriented Cooperative: relevant perspectives Exemplary: –Learning by doing; –Try out of problem solving strategies with regard to central issues (incl. experimental) –Designed in cooperation –Realistic (policy reflex!) Interactive: trust building, common vocabulary, influence of power relations, openness for other perspectives (knowledge-opinions), validity via negotiation & cooperation
18 3. Lessons from practice No laboratory work: –From ‘the 10 commandments’ to a stubborn practise: unforeseen complexities –Humans talk back, molecules don’t Not just a matter of transferring social scientific knowledge & methods: –Need for constant cooperation and reflection; no cookery book (e.g. ToVo) Perspectives ‘sitting at the table’ resonate in the outcomes and communication Lack of time & attention for reflection
19 4. Conclusion Emancipation of social science: from perceived as communicators to communication advice & research to partners in research & policymaking –Communicators: when the job is finished (research + interpretation) ‘the people of the communication’ have to translate it to society –Communication advice & research: modern risk communication & reflection –Partners in research & policymaking: complementary expertise, perspectives & reflection; e.g. action-plan Complex but interesting and fruitful work