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Polarization and clustering in scientific debates and problem framing: network analysis of the science-policy interface for grassland management in China

Aitong Li, Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Masaru Yarime, School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, University College London, UK; Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo, Japan


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Environmental problems are usually framed by a repertoire of arguments articulated by a network of individuals (scientists and policymakers) and their affiliated institutions. Given the complexity of this network, it is important to conduct network analyses on both individual and organizational levels to achieve a better understanding of the underlying political structure that influences science-policy communication. Through an empirical study of a policy network related to grassland management in China, our study examines the underlying political structure of the network as well as its political impact on the problem-framing processes. The analysis reveals that political polarization and power imbalances in the network, the product of existing institutional arrangements, have confined the framing of environmental problems to specific areas and impeded the development of comprehensive policies.

Key words

environmental management; institutional balance; political polarization; problem framing; science-policy interface; social network analysis

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087