Framing Contests in Environmental Decision-making: A Case Study of the Tar Creek (Oklahoma) Superfund Site
Shirley G. Vincent and Thomas E. Shriver
DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2009.164.178
American Journal of Environmental Sciences
Volume 5, Issue 2
Problem statement: Stakeholder involvement processes have become an important component of environmental decision-making. This study investigated the role that stakeholders operating outside of official stakeholder processes may play in influencing the policy environment. An improved understanding of the public and political influences on environmental policy decisions contributes to the development of more effective and legitimate policies. Approach: We utilized frame analysis to reveal the emergence and communication of competing narratives (problem and solution frames) among citizen groups at the Tar Creek Superfund Site and how these frames influenced the political dialogue surrounding remediation decisions at the site. The data used in the analysis was drawn from extensive fieldwork in the Tar Creek communities, document analysis and in-depth interviews with 53 individual stakeholders. Results: Three competing frames were articulated and advanced by three groups of Tar Creek residents. We demonstrate that each of the three groups altered the policy debate and influenced the actions of politicians, which in turn impacted remediation policy decisions. Evidence suggests that all three groups were able to significantly affect policy decisions, although the magnitude of their influence differed. Conclusion/Recommendations: The results showed that public framing may play a critical role in influencing environmental policy decisions. Understanding how stakeholder framing can impact the overall context of environmental decisions will allow policymakers to better respond to stakeholder concerns in a way that benefits the policy making process as well as policy outcomes.
© 2009 Shirley G. Vincent and Thomas E. Shriver. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.