Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social networks within policy networks: The case of Maine's Climate Change Action Plan
by Morris, Teague Beaux, Ph.D., University of Southern Maine, 2010, 161; 3422286
Abstract (Summary)

In a post-positivist or “network society” context, policy is made in an atmosphere where trust in government is not assumed. Politics and policy making are not simply about finding solutions but, rather, formats that generate trust among interdependent actors. Policy networks, increasingly relied upon by decision makers seeking trust through participating in collective action and problem solving, are an arena for playing out competing interests. In a climate change policy network, participants beliefs and social values confront issues of trust, homophily and the interplay of Weltanschauung or worldview.

This single case study investigates how the nature of social networks within such a policy network inform the decision-making process and how the various meanings of climate change, framed within the context of worldview and environmental concern, are understood by the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) of the Maine Global Climate Change Action Plan (CAP). In conjunction with semi-structured interviews, a Likert-scale roster survey measuring type and degree of connection is administered to the SAG’s 41 members. Using social network and narrative analysis, and an iterative process of data reduction and pattern-matching, results are compared and contrasted. Within the SAG, four discourse types are prevalent among the group’s business, nonprofit, government and legislative interests relative to participants’ worldview and approach to environment concerns. A core of influential stakeholders is discerned from those at the periphery. One individual, a volunteer, is seen as the group’s bellwether while others, standard-bearers for economic and/or uniquely religious/ethical environmental perspectives, are symbolically significant for participants in making meaning from their experiences.

The research depicts a social network as a cultural object as well as a model of interaction. For policy makers and stakeholder-group managers, this research describes the utility of considering the meaning(s) of a policy network even after the event itself has ended. While this research does not necessarily indicate one’s worldview is altered in the course of making climate change policy, to the extent that networks can be seen as cultural events, participants draw on political memory, to varying degrees of emotional intensity, to reflect on their actions, beliefs and interactions with others.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lapping, Mark B.
Commitee: Ellison, Marvin M., Lynn, Dahlia B.
School: University of Southern Maine
Department: Muskie School of Public Service
School Location: United States -- Maine
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Climate Change, Environmental management, Public policy
Keywords: Climate Change Action Plan, Climate change, Discourse analysis, Environmental policy, Government studies, Maine, Policy networks, Social network analysis, Social networks
Publication Number: 3422286
ISBN: 978-1-124-21109-1
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