Publications by year
(In Press). Living on with Sellafield: nuclear infrastructure, slow violence and the politics of quiescence. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Living on with Sellafield: nuclear infrastructure, slow violence and the politics of quiescence
Communities living with nuclear infrastructures have widely been positioned as quiescent and accepting of the risks posed. Drawing on ethnographic data collected in 2008 in the village of Seascale, which neighbours the UK’s Sellafield site, and on recent thinking on nuclear and toxic geographies, this paper troubles the idea of nuclear quiescence. In doing so it critically engages with a long tradition of geographical research on nuclear communities, much of which adopts a risk perception paradigm, foregrounding the presence (or absence) of localised concern. Within this body of work, interest has centred on the apparent paradox that those spatially exposed are also most quiescent, pointing to the play of economic dependency, risk denial and familiarity with nuclear infrastructure. This paper addresses the slow violence inherent in living on with nuclear infrastructure: drawn-out effects and affects of nuclearity on place that are barely visible in the routines of everyday life. I locate these expressions of social and geographic damage in techno-political relations which obscure the exceptionalism of the nuclear industry. The analysis challenges passive renderings of toxic victimhood by emphasising modes of pragmatic resistance - subtle and contingent ways in which residents challenge the identity and structural relations of being nuclear. I stress the need for geographers to find alternative ways of theorising the unjust relationship between nuclear economies, infrastructures and places in situations of political-economic dependency and domination. I argue that policy instruments aimed at securing social justice in nuclear infrastructure planning will need to more fully, and openly, grapple with questions around the socio-political relations of care that might sustain a ‘good life’ for places that have very long histories and even longer futures with toxicity. Abstract
Manktelow C, Hoppe T, Bickerstaff K, Itten A, Fremouw M, Naik M
(2023). Can co-creation support local heat decarbonisation strategies? Insights from pilot projects in Bruges and Mechelen. Energy Research and Social Science
Can co-creation support local heat decarbonisation strategies? Insights from pilot projects in Bruges and Mechelen
Co-creation is often presented as a solution to challenges of achieving energy transitions. However, there is currently little known about how coordinating stakeholders, such as city administrations, interpret co-creation and the extent to which this influences co-creation processes. We draw on a recent project, which embedded co-creation in public decision-making about local-level, sustainable heating transitions. We specifically address the question of how co-creation has been interpreted and implemented by administrations in two major Belgian cities, Bruges and Mechelen, between 2019 and 2023. Data collection included expert interviews, participatory observation, workshops, focus groups, and reviews of action plans and policy documents. We found that a normative understanding of co-creation evolved amongst the project coordinators, who inherently valued the inclusion of citizens in sustainable heat transitions, although actual co-creation only took place at the end of the project (2022–2023). However, we observed structural impediments and contexts that impinge on co-creation: a perceived conflict between community engagement and existing policy agendas, departmental interests; the instrumental framing of projects and the role of co-creation; and the impact of wider political pressures and events (in this case the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions). Conclusions are drawn regarding the longer-term benefits of co-creation for coordinating stakeholders. We also stress the need for research to more fully attend to the structural relations that enable and constrain these actors to practice and innovate with co-creation. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Darvill C, Parsons L, Yu L (2023). Geography and environment: a time of change. Geo Geography and Environment, 10(1).
Bickerstaff K (2017). Geographies of energy justice: Concepts, challenges and an emerging agenda. In (Ed) Handbook on the Geographies of Energy, 438-449.
Bickerstaff K (2017). Justice in energy system transitions. In (Ed) The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice, 388-399.
(2017). Justice in energy system transitions: a synthesis and agenda. In Holifield R, Chakraborty J, Walker G (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice
, Routledge, 388-400.
Justice in energy system transitions: a synthesis and agenda
Bickerstaff K, Johnstone P (2017). The re-scaling of energy politics. In (Ed) The Routledge Research Companion to Energy Geographies, 139-152.
Bickerstaff K, Johnstone P
(2017). The re-scaling of energy politics: UK nuclear facility siting in historical context. In Bouzarovski S, Pasqualetti MJ, Castán Broto V (Eds.) The Routledge Research Companion to Energy Geographies
, Taylor & Francis.
The re-scaling of energy politics: UK nuclear facility siting in historical context
Bickerstaff K, Hinton E, Bulkeley H
(2016). Decarbonisation at home: the contingent politics of experimental domestic energy technologies. Environment and Planning A
Decarbonisation at home: the contingent politics of experimental domestic energy technologies
Policy efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of domestic energy consumption have, over the last three decades, been dominated by an almost dichotomous reading of the relationship between technology and social change. On the one hand, there is a conception of personal responsibility that constructs domestic energy users as key actors in the adoption and (appropriate) use of low carbon energy technologies; from this perspective, environmental change becomes a matter of mobilising personal capacities such that individuals make better choices. On the other hand, decarbonising homes is conceived to be an outcome of top-down infrastructural interventions, with householders (or end users) positioned as relatively passive agents who will respond to engineered efficiency in linear and predictable ways. In practice, both positions have been found wanting in terms of accounting for how (and why) change happens and in turn delivering on ambitious policy goals. The argument we develop in this article goes beyond critiquing these problematic framings of technology and the locus of agency. Drawing on three contrasting low carbon energy technology projects in the UK, we present an alternative perspective which foregrounds a more experimental, ad hoc and ultimately provisional mode of governing with domestic energy technologies. We reflect on the meaning and political implications of this experimental turn in transforming (and decarbonising) domestic energy practices. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Devine-Wright P, Butler C
(2014). Living with low carbon technologies: an agenda for sharing and comparing qualitative energy research. Energy Policy
Living with low carbon technologies: an agenda for sharing and comparing qualitative energy research
Policies to reduce the carbon intensity of domestic living place considerable emphasis on the diffusion of low(er) carbon technologies-from microgeneration to an array of feedback and monitoring devices. These efforts presume that low carbon technologies (LCTs) will be accepted and integrated into domestic routines in the ways intended by their designers. This study contributes to an emerging qualitative energy research (QER) literature by deploying an analytical approach that explores comparison of data from two UK projects ('Carbon, Comfort and Control' and 'Conditioning Demand') concerned, in broad terms, with householder-LCTs interactions - primarily associated with the production and maintenance of thermal comfort. In-depth, and in many cases repeat, interviews were conducted in a total of 18 households where devices such as heat pumps and thermal feedback lamps had recently been installed. We discuss this comparative process and how a reflexive reading of notions of (and strategies associated with) credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmablity enabled new ways of working and thinking with existing data. We conclude by highlighting the contrasts, conflicts, but also creativities raised by drawing these connections, and consider implications for methodologies associated with qualitative energy research. Abstract
Tweed C, Dixon D, Hinton E, Bickerstaff K
(2014). Thermal comfort practices in the home and their impact on energy consumption. Architectural Engineering and Design Management
Thermal comfort practices in the home and their impact on energy consumption
Existing theories have little to say about thermal comfort in the home. Most previous studies have focused on non-domestic buildings in which the occupants have limited opportunities to change the ambient environmental conditions. At home, people generally have greater freedom and, subject to the capabilities of the building and its systems, can decide and create conditions they consider comfortable. This paper reports on a detailed study of thermal comfort practices and energy consumption in different dwellings in South Wales using mixed methods to record physical conditions and householders' accounts of how and why they create those conditions. The methodology includes a robust form of thermal comfort survey that has enabled us to link reported comfort votes to measurements of prevailing environmental conditions. Householders also participated in in-depth interviews to describe how they maintain comfort in their everyday lives. This study reveals diverse time-varying profiles of thermal conditions, in which there are significant differences in temperatures in the main living spaces and in the temperature distribution, for example, between living rooms and bedrooms. It shows how householders develop a range of behaviours, skills and knowledge to create thermal conditions they consider acceptable rather than those predicted by conventional comfort theories. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Hinton E (2013). Chapter 14: Climate change, human security and the built environment. In (Ed) Handbook on Climate Change and Human Security, 361-381.
Bickerstaff K (2013). Climate change, human security and the built environment. In Grasso M, Redclift MR (Eds.) Handbook on Climate Change and Human Security, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 361-361.
Bickerstaff K, Walker G, Bulkeley H
(2013). Energy Justice in a Changing Climate Social equity implications of the energy and low-carbon relationship.
, Zed Books.
Energy Justice in a Changing Climate Social equity implications of the energy and low-carbon relationship
Bickerstaff K, Walker G (2013). Making sense of energy justice. In Bickerstaff K, Waker G, Bulkeley H (Eds.) Energy Justice in a Changing Climate, London: Zed, 1-13.
McLaren D, Krieger K, Bickerstaff K (2013). Procedural justice in energy system transitions: the case of CCS. In Bickerstaff K, Walker G, Bulkeley H (Eds.) Energy Justice in a Changing Climate, London: Zed, 158-181.
(2012). "Because we've got history here": Nuclear waste, cooperative siting, and the relational geography of a complex issue. Environment and Planning A
"Because we've got history here": Nuclear waste, cooperative siting, and the relational geography of a complex issue
This paper takes as its focus recent developments in UK radioactive waste management policy and, through a relational reading of siting confl icts, stresses the need to locate, historically, controversy that takes place in the present. In particular, I argue that temporally distant actors and events, which remain culturally very salient, are critical in shaping the pathway of contentious planning processes. Here I trace the space-time relations that confi gure the (possible) siting of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for higher activity nuclear waste, through a cooperative process of volunteerism, as a matter of concern for publics in West Cumbria. The history, economy, and culture of West Cumbria is intimately connected with the nuclear industry-and, at the time of writing, the region represents the only area of England and Wales for which there are recorded expressions of interest in hosting a GDF. The paper demonstrates that controversy centred on the spatial ordering of the siting process by government-a politics that was rooted in the area's history with nuclear waste-and the actors and events that had structured this past. In this regard, I argue for a geographical reading of siting controversy that acknowledges the agency of the absent, and the play of distant others in confi guring a public politics of the present. © 2012 Pion and its Licensors. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Agyeman J (2010). Assembling justice spaces: the scalar politics of environmental justice in north-east england. In (Ed) Spaces of Environmental Justice, 193-218.
Fuller S, Bickerstaff K, Khaw FM, Curtis S
(2010). Communication About Persistent Environmental Risks: Problems of Knowledge Exchange and Potential of Participative Techniques. In (Ed) Risk Communication and Public Health
Communication About Persistent Environmental Risks: Problems of Knowledge Exchange and Potential of Participative Techniques
Bickerstaff K, Lorenzoni I, Jones M, Pidgeon N
(2010). Locating scientific citizenship: the institutional contexts and cultures of public engagement. Science Technology and Human Values
Locating scientific citizenship: the institutional contexts and cultures of public engagement
In this article, we explore the institutional negotiation of public engagement in matters of science and technology. We take the example of the Science in Society dialogue program initiated by the UK's Royal Society, but set this case within the wider experience of the public engagement activities of a range of charities, corporations, governmental departments, and scientific institutions. The novelty of the analysis lies in the linking of an account of the dialogue event and its outcomes to the values, practices, and imperatives-the institutional rationality-of the commissioning organization. We argue that the often tacit institutional construction of scientific citizenship is a critical, and relatively undeveloped, element of analysis-one that offers considerable insight into the practice and democratic implications of engaging publics in science and science policy. We also present evidence indicating that over time the expanding "capacities" associated with dialogue can act in subtle ways to enroll other elements of institutional architectures into more reflexive modes of thinking and acting. In the concluding section of the article, we consider the ways in which research and practice could (and we believe should) engage more squarely with facets of institutional context and culture. © 2010 the Author(s). Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Simmons P
(2009). Absencing/presencing risk: Rethinking proximity and the experience of living with major technological hazards. Geoforum
Absencing/presencing risk: Rethinking proximity and the experience of living with major technological hazards
There is now a substantial body of sociocultural research that has investigated the ways in which specific communities living in physical proximity with a variety of polluting or hazardous technological installations experience and respond to their exposure to the associated risk. Much of this research has sought to understand the apparent acceptance or acquiescence displayed by local populations towards established hazards of the kind that are typically resisted when the subject of siting proposals. However, recent theoretical contributions, produced largely outside the field of risk research, have problematised the objective distinction between proximity and distance. In this paper we explore the potential of some of these ideas for furthering our understanding of the relationship between place and the constitution of risk subjectivities. To do this we re-examine a number of existing sociocultural studies that are predicated on a localised approach and conceptualise the relationship of physically proximate sources of risk to everyday experience in terms of practices of 'presencing' and 'absencing'. We conclude with some thoughts on the methodological and substantive implications of this reworking of proximity for future research into risk subjectivities. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Agyeman J
(2009). Assembling justice spaces: the scalar politics of environmental justice in North-east England. Antipode
Assembling justice spaces: the scalar politics of environmental justice in North-east England
In contrast to the US environmental justice movement, which has been successful in building a networked environmentalism that recognises-and has impacted upon-national patterns of distributional (in)equalities, campaigns in the UK have rarely developed beyond the local or articulated a coherent programme of action that links to wider socio-spatial justice issues or effects real changes in the regulatory or political environment. Our purpose in this paper is to extend research which explores the spatial politics of mobilisation, by attending to the multi-scalar dynamics embedded in the enactment of environmental justice (EJ) in north-east England. It is an approach that is indebted to recent work on the scalar politics of EJ, and also to the network ideas associated with actor-network theory (ANT)-inspired research on human-nature relations. Our account provides preliminary reflections on the potential for an "assemblage"perspective which draws together people, texts, machines, animals, devices and discourses in relations that collectively constitute - and scale - EJ. To conclude, and building upon this approach, we suggest future research avenues that we believe present a promising agenda for critical engagement with the production, scaling and politics of environmental (in)justice. © Journal compilation © 2009 Editorial Board of Antipode. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Bulkeley H, painter J (2009). Justice, nature and the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(3), 591-600.
(2009). Resisting global toxics: transnational movements for environmental justice. ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING A
(10), 2537-2539. Author URL
Bickerstaff K, Dodson B (2009). Reviews: the Geographies of Garbage Governance: Interventions, Interactions and Outcomes, Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice, Development and the African Diaspora: Place and the Politics of Home. Environment and Planning a Economy and Space, 41(10), 2537-2540.
(2009). The geographies of garbage governance: interventions, interactions and outcomes. ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING A
(10), 2537-2539. Author URL
Bickerstaff KJ, Simmons P, Pidgeon N
(2008). Constructing responsibilities for risk: Negotiating citizen - State relationships. Environment and Planning A
Constructing responsibilities for risk: Negotiating citizen - State relationships
The paper examines the ways in which citizens negotiate responsibility in relation to various environmental and technological risks. It focuses on the role of agency and the way that this figures in constructions of relations of responsibility between individuals and institutions. A central argument is that, across the different issue contexts, patterns of perceived agency are crucial to understanding the apparent contradiction in citizens' attributions of role-responsibilities for the management of risk. The empirical basis of the paper is a series of twelve reconvened focus groups conducted at locations around England, giving a total of twenty-four meetings, in which citizens discussed six different areas of technological risk: genetically modified (GM) crops, genetic testing, mobile-phone handsets; mobile-phone masts; radioactive waste; and climate change. The authors highlight the problem of citizen ambivalence towards responsibility, tracing it to perceived tensions affecting both citizen and state performances of responsibility, and conclude by discussing the implications for policy and by outlining an agenda for further research. © 2007 Pion Ltd and its Licensors. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Lorenzoni I, Pidgeon NF, Poortinga W, Simmons P
(2008). Reframing nuclear power in the UK energy debate: nuclear power, climate change mitigation and radioactive waste. Public Underst Sci
Reframing nuclear power in the UK energy debate: nuclear power, climate change mitigation and radioactive waste.
In the past decade, human influence on the climate through increased use of fossil fuels has become widely acknowledged as one of the most pressing issues for the global community. For the United Kingdom, we suggest that these concerns have increasingly become manifest in a new strand of political debate around energy policy, which reframes nuclear power as part of the solution to the need for low-carbon energy options. A mixed-methods analysis of citizen views of climate change and radioactive waste is presented, integrating focus group data and a nationally representative survey. The data allow us to explore how UK citizens might now and in the future interpret and make sense of this new framing of nuclear power--which ultimately centers on a risk-risk trade-off scenario. We use the term "reluctant acceptance" to describe how, in complex ways, many focus group participants discursively re-negotiated their position on nuclear energy when it was positioned alongside climate change. In the concluding section of the paper, we reflect on the societal implications of the emerging discourse of new nuclear build as a means of delivering climate change mitigation and set an agenda for future research regarding the (re)framing of the nuclear energy debate in the UK and beyond. Abstract
. Author URL
(2007). Hazards, vulnerability and environmental justice. JOURNAL OF RISK RESEARCH
(4), 585-587. Author URL
Bickerstaff K, Simmons P, Pidgeon N
(2006). Situating local experience of risk: Peripherality, marginality and place identity in the UK foot and mouth disease crisis. Geoforum
Situating local experience of risk: Peripherality, marginality and place identity in the UK foot and mouth disease crisis
Research into exposure to, and experience of, environmental risk that has an explicitly spatial focus can be broadly differentiated into two strands. The first strand focuses on the responses of communities of exposure (or the threat of exposure) to some form of environmental hazard and to the policies put in place by institutional actors to manage the hazard. The second strand addresses social inequalities in exposure to environmental hazards and seeks to correlate uneven spatial distributions of risk across different social groups. It is argued that both strands are limited by their respective understandings of space - and that the way in which vulnerable communities experience environmental risk and its management will be shaped significantly by the complex interactions of different spatialisations or constructions of space. We explore this process by examining accounts of local experience of the UK's 2001 foot and mouth disease crisis and its management in terms of the interplay of two different spatialisations: socio-cultural marginality and political-economic peripherality. We trace the relationship between these cultural and political-economic spatialisations through an analysis of the discursive mobilisation of contrasting place rhetorics. We conclude that focusing on these rhetorics can enhance our understanding of the spatial processes which are constitutive of place identity and in turn mediate the experience of environmental risk and its management. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Abstract
Bergmans A, Elam M, Sundqvist G, Kos D, Simmons P, Bickerstaff K
(2005). CARL: a social science research project into the effects of stakeholder involvement on decision-making in radioactive waste management (RWM). Proceedings - 10th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, ICEM'05
CARL: a social science research project into the effects of stakeholder involvement on decision-making in radioactive waste management (RWM)
This paper introduces a number of core questions that will be addressed by the comparative social sciences research project 'CARL'. The project focuses on stakeholder involvement in radioactive waste management (RWM) and the effects this generates on the decision-making process. The paper traces the transition from a technocratic to a socio-technical approach to RWM in four of the participating countries. These historical paths to stakeholder involvement converge upon crisis points that gave rise to what one might call 'moments of conviction', when it became clear to the agencies involved that the cherished and sometimes highly effective technocratic approach to RWM was no longer able to solve all (siting) problems. This newfound commitment to stakeholder involvement on the part of the heavily criticised RWM agencies is echoed in many other countries with a nuclear programme. There are, however, questions still to be addressed relating to the shaping of these processes, their impact on decision-making and how they themselves affect stakeholder identification. This paper represents a first attempt to outline and address those questions. Copyright © 2005 by ASME. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Walker G
(2005). Shared visions, unholy alliances: Power, governance and deliberative processes in local transport planning. Urban Studies
Shared visions, unholy alliances: Power, governance and deliberative processes in local transport planning
The aim of this paper is to bring some critical reflection to bear on the upsurge of participatory rhetoric in local governance. The research discussed investigates two case studies of deliberative exercises used by local authorities to develop their local transport plans. The analysis avoids the rather simplistic 'check list' evaluative models based upon the Habermasian ideals of communicative rationality and instead develops an approach which attends to the power relations embedded in the process of participation. Significantly, the research, across a range of stakeholder groups, reveals a deeply problematic relationship between citizen involvement and established structures of democratic decision-making. Attention is drawn to the institutional constraints which account for the limited realisation of the participatory agenda in local governance. Conclusions are also developed relating to both the process of participation evaluation and the wider consequences of the expansion of public involvement for the renewal of local democracy. © 2005 the Editors of Urban Studies. Abstract
(2004). Risk perception research: socio-cultural perspectives on the public experience of air pollution. Environ Int
Risk perception research: socio-cultural perspectives on the public experience of air pollution.
This paper reviews recent work in the field of risk perception research, taking its examples primarily from work relating to air pollution issues. The paper opens with a brief discussion of the psychological literature on risk perception, in order to set out the key insights, criticisms and more recent developments associated with such approaches, before turning to the findings of recent socio-cultural analyses of perceptions of air pollution. This account, which considers how social and cultural factors influence the way in which people interpret and make sense of risk, draws linkages with psychological risk perception research, revealing that over the last decade there has been a pronounced degree of convergence between the conclusions being reached across these two (historically disparate) fields of research. The paper concludes by evaluating the relevance of risk perception research for the science and policy of risk assessment and management. Abstract
. Author URL
Poortinga W, Bickerstaff K, Langford I, Niewöhner J, Pidgeon N
(2004). The British 2001 Foot and Mouth crisis: a comparative study of public risk perceptions, trust and beliefs about government policy in two communities. Journal of Risk Research
The British 2001 Foot and Mouth crisis: a comparative study of public risk perceptions, trust and beliefs about government policy in two communities
This mixed methodology study examines public attitudes to risk and its management during the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic in Britain. A quantitative survey and qualitative focus groups were conducted to examine how two communities (Norwich and Bude) responded to the crisis. People were more concerned about a broad range of indirect consequences than about the direct (health) impacts of the disease, especially about the effects on the livelihood and future of rural economies. Moreover, people detected a complex of causes underlying the emergence of FMD, which suggests that the outbreak of FMD was considered a system failure, rather than something that could be blamed on one specific cause or actor. In general, people appeared to be critical about governmental handling of the FMD epidemic. Although there was some support for the government policy of slaughtering infected animals, the government was widely criticized for the way they carried out their policies. Only minor differences between the two communities Norwich and Bude were found. In particular, differences were found related to the government handling of the disease, reflected most notably in people's trust judgements. It is argued that these were the result of contextual differences in local experience, and debate on the crisis, in the two communities. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Simmons P
(2004). The right tool for the job? Modeling, spatial relationships, and styles of scientific practice in the UK foot and mouth crisis. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
The right tool for the job? Modeling, spatial relationships, and styles of scientific practice in the UK foot and mouth crisis
In this paper we explore the expert controversy over the management of a major rural risk issue, the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak that affected the United Kingdom in 2001, and in particular the role of predictive epidemiological modeling in the decisionmaking process. We pose the questions of why this technique was identified as the right tool for the job by government and why, at the same time, its use was so fiercely contested by other experts in animal health. To set our analysis in context we outline briefly the causes, characteristics, and consequences of FMD together with its history in the United Kingdom. We then provide an account of the 2001 FMD outbreak and the policies that were employed to control the epidemic. In the main discussion we integrate the geographical concept of spatial practices with the concept, drawn from the sociology of scientific knowledge, of styles of scientific practice and apply this to the analysis of the knowledge practices and arguments of the scientific groups that advised on controlling the epidemic. We analyse the key differences between expert groups and their policy recommendations in terms of their different styles of scientific spatial practice. In the rhetorical boundary work of the opposing scientific groups we see these differences in 'style' being invoked to delineate the boundaries of 'sound science' and thereby legitimate their respective policy prescriptions. We conclude by discussing the relationship between styles of scientific spatial practice and recent trends in government policy style and its implications for future risk policy. Abstract
Tolley R, Bickerstaff K, Lumsdon L (2003). 18 Social and cultural influences on the future of walking – the experts' opinion. In (Ed) Sustainable Transport, 238-251.
Tolley R, Bickerstaff K, Lumsdon L (2003). Social and cultural influences on the future of walking - the experts' opinion. In (Ed) Sustainable Transport, 238-251.
Bickerstaff K, Walker G
(2003). The place(s) of matter: Matter out of place - Public understandings of air pollution. Progress in Human Geography
The place(s) of matter: Matter out of place - Public understandings of air pollution
This article reflects on the key findings and insights offered by recent work on public understandings of air pollution, which has begun to adopt some of the concepts and methodologies associated with social constructionism. We begin with a brief discussion of debates in the social sciences generally, and human geography specifically, regarding the precepts of 'social constructionism', before setting out the 'heterogeneous' mode that we adopt in this paper. In this light, we trace briefly the fairly narrow empirical, methodological and conceptual preoccupations of early air pollution perception work. These accounts usefully situate the remainder of the paper, which focuses on the recent body of research that explores public understandings of air pollution, with quite different approaches to theory and data collection to that which has gone before. The argument we develop asserts that a constructionist interpretation, in revealing 'complexity' and the entangled interaction of society-environment-technology, raises serious questions about the dominant political discourse of air pollution and the policy responses which it legitimates. The issues raised by this review, we believe, offer a fresh perspective and the potential to progress not only our understanding and management of air pollution risks but also the contribution of geographers to a challenging research terrain. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Walker G
(2002). Risk, responsibility, and blame: an analysis of vocabularies of motive in air-pollution(ing) discourses. Environment and Planning A
Risk, responsibility, and blame: an analysis of vocabularies of motive in air-pollution(ing) discourses
In this paper we analyse the reasonings that people deploy in explaining and rationalising their behaviour in relation to the collective environmental and health-risk problem of urban air quality. We draw on an empirical study of public perceptions of air pollution to identify a range of 'vocabularies of motive' or discourses that serve to move responsibility to act away from the individual and onto other groups. We consider how far each of these 'vocabularies' can be interpreted as a mode of blaming, and draw conclusions linking our analysis to wider relational and moral tensions. Our analysis suggests that blame, although conceptually powerful, falters under empirical scrutiny. On this basis we argue for a more sensitive reading of responsibility discourses in academic debate and enquiry. Conclusions and policy implications are developed, linking our interpretation to the (confrontation of) wider relational and moral tensions, which characterise collective-risk situations. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Tolley R, Walker G
(2002). Transport planning and participation: the rhetoric and realities of public involvement. Journal of Transport Geography
Transport planning and participation: the rhetoric and realities of public involvement
The new direction in transport policy, embodied in the 1998 White Paper, has brought with it a sea change in political thinking about the objectives and process of local transport planning. In this paper, we consider 'the realities' of how one cornerstone of this 'new' agenda, a duty on authorities to undertake 'public participation' in producing their local transport plans, has been conceptualised and integrated within the wider planning practice. Drawing on a research project which involved a survey of English highway authorities and a content analysis of policy documents we evaluate experiences in relation to four key principles of the participation process. The paper concludes that whilst there is considerable activity on the surface, evidence of substantive impacts on local transport planning or a strategic approach to the participation process is sparse - a situation which is, we argue, traceable back to the lack of clarity in central government policy and guidance. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Walker G
(2001). Public understandings of air pollution: the 'localisation' of environmental risk. Global Environmental Change
Public understandings of air pollution: the 'localisation' of environmental risk
Recent perspectives on public understandings of global environmental risk have emphasised the interpretation, judgement and 'sense-making' that takes place, modes of perception that are inextricably tied to aspects of 'local' context. In this paper we offer a current picture of the ways in which residents think about the problem of urban air pollution. To do this we utilise elements of a wider research project involving a survey and in-depth interviews with members of the public. In this way - and drawing upon the prior air pollution perception literature and recent work in the field of environmental and risk perception - we present a more analytical interpretation than has hitherto been approached. Conclusions are drawn which stress the localisation of people's understandings within the immediate physical, social and cultural landscape and also through a trust in personal experiences over any kind of information-based evidence. From this position, and with the development of implications for policy, we demonstrate the need to study public perceptions if the objectives of air quality, and more generally, environmental management are to be achieved. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. Abstract
Tolley R, Lumsdon L, Bickerstaff K
(2001). The future of walking in Europe: a Delphi project to identify expert opinion on future walking scenarios. Transport Policy
The future of walking in Europe: a Delphi project to identify expert opinion on future walking scenarios
There is increasing recognition of the importance of walking to the sustainability of cities, set against a continuing decline in everyday walking. This paper reports on a research project, which predicts trends in walking in Europe by 2010 by seeking opinion of experts who are knowledgeable about non-motorised transport. There is a consensus that there will be more walking for leisure and health, but less everyday walking. This will happen despite walking being seen as more important and there being more facilities, infrastructure, information and funding for walking. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Abstract
Bickerstaff K, Walker G
(1999). Clearing the smog? Public responses to air-quality information. Local Environment
Clearing the smog? Public responses to air-quality information
Recent perspectives on public responses to environmental and risk communication have emphasised the interpretation, judgement and 'sense-making' that takes place when lay audiences receive information and advice. In this paper we consider the public reception given to air-quality information in the UK as one example of a government information and communication initiative. Drawing on elements of a wider research project undertaken in the city of Birmingham in the UK, involving a survey and in-depth interviews with members of the public, it examines the extent of awareness and use of information services, attitudes towards information and the role of information in behaviour change. The objective of the paper is to assess in practical terms the impact of air-quality information available through the media and other sources, as well as to provide empirical evidence with which to reflect on debates over the practice of environmental communication and the stimulation of pro-environmental behaviour. Conclusions are drawn which point to both problems with air quality information provision and the possibilities of more effective and appropriate interventions through local-level initiatives. Abstract