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Towards a Framework for Analyzing Interactions Between Social Science and Environmental Policy

Parry, S   Murphy, J

March 2012


Interactions between social science and environmental policy have become increasingly important over the past 25 years. To date, however, there has been little analysis of the roles that social scientists have taken on and the contributions they have made. In this paper we begin the process and offer preliminary answers to two key questions: in relation to environmental problems: (1) how do social science and public policy interact? and (2) what roles should social scientists play in the future? To answer these questions
we build on research which links Policy Studies with Science and Technology Studies (Murphy and Levidow 2006, Fischer 2009, Collins et al. 2010) and extend it through wider debates around public scholarship (Burawoy 2005, Fuller 2008, Murphy 2011).

Our answer to the first question emphasizes the complex dynamics of governance, the role that framing plays in policy, and the implications of these for knowledge and expertise. Our answer to the second question emphasizes the role that social scientists can play in facilitating reflexive dialogue with policy makers whilst at the same time highlighting the need for social scientists to work beyond policy for progressive social change.

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