Emerging social relations in participatory decision-making – how stakeholders understand and learn from each other
Daniel Teodoro, Christina Prell, Laixiang SunResponding 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.