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Barriers to participation and deliberation in risk decisions: evidence from waste management

Judith Petts

Journal of Risk Research, 2004, vol. 7, issue 2, 115-133

Abstract: Despite increased support for extended public engagement in risk decision-making, significant questions remain over the best means to integrated deliberative processes with conventional ‘scientific’ or technical elements. This paper analyses the barriers to analytic--deliberative processes as a means by which the public can influence risk decisions, including the generation of data and the derivation of acceptable policy options. Using evidence from waste management decision processes in Britain, the discussion identifies technical, institutional and cultural barriers to effective process. The barriers are seen to limit systematic analysis appropriate to the problems as framed by the public. The principle that the nature of the risks and the assessment required needs to be determined through discussion with the public not in advance of discussion with them is challenged by proceduralization cultures within decision authorities and ingrained technical cultural perspectives. It is evident also that fundamental barriers lie in fragmentary decision processes and weak regulation. The paper discusses the requirements for a decision-support framework for multicriteria decision-making with full public participation.

Date: 2004
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