Emerging social relations in participatory decision-making – how stakeholders understand and learn from each other

Daniel Teodoro, Christina Prell, Laixiang Sun

Contact: teodoro@umd.edu

Responding to accelerating climate change impacts requires broad and effective engagement with stakeholders, at multiple geographic and governance levels. Stakeholder participation has been hailed as a facilitated approach in climate change adaptation that supports social learning, depolarization of perceptions, and fosters collective action. But stakeholder participation remains loosely interpreted and quantitative measures are limited or non-existent. This study employs social network analysis (SNA) to investigate how social relations among stakeholders, that emerge as a result of participation, are associated with changes in perceptions of climate change. We hypothesize that ties of mutual-understanding and mutual-respect can predict measures of learning as changes in perceptions of climate change awareness. This approach was applied to a case in Deal Island Peninsula, Maryland (USA) where local residents, scientists, and government officials met from 2015 – 2017 to discuss the impacts of sea-level rise in their communities. We found that mutual-understanding and respect are positively associated with changes in perceptions of climate change. We provide a detailed conceptualization and implementation of these measures with the intent of replicability and as a potential quantitative performance measure of stakeholder participation processes in climate change adaptation.

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