Nice to see a new chapter out this month, Strategies for Integrating Quantitative Methods into Critical Social Acceptance Research, drawing on three different surveys about renewable energy in the last few years with UAlberta colleague John Parkins, one with MES Ellen Chappell, both co-authors. The book is co-edited by Susana Batel and David Rudolph, focusing on ‘critical’ approaches to social acceptance work on renewable energy. While they first approached me to do something on climax thinking, for some reason I can’t quite remember (probably the long delay for that previous chapter to come out), I pitched something on quant methods instead. Our chapter argues that quantitative methods are not anathema to critical approaches: they bring important strengths but call for some creativity in design. The three surveys we used as exemplars covered the national scale, provincial scale (Alberta) and regional scale (Tantramar/Chignecto), and each sought to reach beyond methodological individualism and Likert questions by engaging with place and materiality, looking relationally, exploring situated norms, forcing trade-offs, using vignettes or scenarios and enquiring about emotions. Now that I can see the impressive full line-up, I can’t wait to get back into the office where I expect my complimentary copy is waiting for me.
Delighted to have a new open source scoping review paper in New Media and Society led by PhD student Yan Chen, Using social media images as data in social science research. This paper is the result of one of her comprehensive exams and allows us to see some of the strengths and biases of this emerging practice. There is a distinctly English-language and small-data approach to these datasets, compared to ‘culturomics’ approaches emerging in conservation contexts, for instance, that use lots of machine learning approaches. There is also a chaos of approaches to ethics and copyright in the handling and use, characteristic of a method that has not yet matured and is subject to a constantly shifting context in terms of platforms and usage norms.
Hot on the heels of Gardenio da Silva’s MES thesis defense, his first paper is out this morning in Energy Research & Social Science, Do methods used in social impact assessment adequately capture impacts? An exploration of the research-practice gap using hydroelectricity in Canada. Gardenio reviewed publicly available social impact assessments (SIAs) from 37 hydroelectricity projects in Canada to see what methods are being used to understand baseline conditions and anticipate impacts. Not surprisingly, the methods are dominated by open houses and census-based input/output tables, the approaches that are best able to be controlled by proponents and consultants. About half used interviews, and a quarter or less more rigorous approaches like participatory mapping or surveys, but most methods were poorly described. The range of impacts vary similarly: all SIAs looked at demographic change, infrastructure impacts and job creation, but fewer than half tackled issues such as gender, equity, crime, substance abuse, etc (see above). The number of methods employed was more correlated with the size of the project (p<0.001) than how recent it is (p<0.05). The paper makes some recommendations about improvements that could be made in SIA practice, and segues nicely to Gardenio’s second paper about monitoring, which should be coming along soon.
Congratulations to Gardenio da Silva who defended his MES thesis this morning on Social impact assessment (SIA) practice for hydroelectricity in CAnada: a review of methods and monitoring. Wonderful to have IA expert Meinhard Doelle examining the thesis from Sweden, John Parkins ringing in early from Alberta (in the midst of this heat wave) in a committee capacity, and colleague Andrew Medeiros managing it all as chair. It was a wonderful conversation about the practice of SIA, using hydro dams as a case, in a challenging context. Gardenio’s work leveraged secondary datsets, including SIA documents and longitudinal media coverage. Both papers within the thesis are at an advanced stage of publication, which makes the process a bit easier, but there was a lot to engage on. Great to see so many MES defending comfortably within the allocated two years.
If you get a card that looks like this in your mail, please don’t ignore it. Environmental Science Honours student Samantha Howard is now waiting eagerly for responses to her survey invitation, which will start arriving in the mailboxes of Bridgewater and Liverpool, NS, early next week. She is interested to know how residents feel about the possibility of flood risk mapping being made publicly available for their property, perhaps even required as a disclosure during home sales or rental agreements.
We are sending this survey invitation out via a Canada Post admail postcard, to avoid multiple handling and any envelope licking at this time of COVID, which I have never tried before. We hope for a good response rate so Samantha can analyze the results statistically, and are grateful to those who are willing to give their time. The survey closes on February 14, to leave enough time for analysis and writing before Sam’s thesis is due the following month. There are 10 Tim Horton’s gift cards to be given away to respondents who decide to enter our draw at the end of the survey. The first 100 respondents have a 1 in 20 chance of winning a $20 card, the rest go into a draw for 5 $10 cards.