Social Research. Roberta Ryan SOC 254 2012. Lecture Outline. Overview and objectives What is research? Why is it important in positioning sustainability? Research purposes and tools Examples Key messages. Research is….
Social Research Roberta Ryan SOC 254 2012
Lecture Outline • Overview and objectives • What is research? • Why is it important in positioning sustainability? • Research purposes and tools • Examples • Key messages
Research is… • Research aims to equip individuals, organisations and communities to deal effectively with the complex and inter-related social, economic and environmental challenges • It involves systems thinking - enabling people to understand the interconnected nature of life; • It is trans-disciplinary…. • And it seeks to improve people's capacity to work towards an equitable and sustainable future; and • It encourages different approaches to sustainability and the further education of sustainability issues.
Why is research important? • Because knowledge is essential to effective planning and management A cycle of learning and change – research and evaluation as informs planning, implementation and future directions for effective environmental education Research and evaluation Research and evaluation Research and evaluation
Research & evaluation in the program cycle The place of research and evaluation…… NSW Office of Environment and Heritage(2009)
Research in the planning cycle The place of research and evaluation…. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage(2009)
Examples of research for a sustainability plan The place of research and evaluation…and example NSW Office of Environment and Heritage(2009)
Why is research important? • Because knowledge is essential to effective management A cycle of learning and change – research and evaluation as informs planning, implementation and future directions for effective sustainability Research Research Research
Tools: Stakeholder and Gap Analysis Examples: planning tools Stakeholder analysis Gap analysis Johnson et al. (2005), adapted from Mendelow (1991))
Community values & perceptions Environmental risk Risk management – integrating perceptions & risk Examples: planning tools Screamers Top drawer Water conservation Desalination Airport noise Air pollution, greenhouse & energy Sleepers Slow burners Land degradation & biodiversity Litter
What is Social Research? • Enquiry for specific purposes • A structured, systematic process • Tested against other sources of information • Data subject to systematic analysis
Social Research is… • Values-based and context driven • Informed by a range of perspectives and expertise • Methodologically rigorous • Clearly focussed, targeted to deliver objectives • Linked to broader policy and sustainability frameworks • Produce findings that can be used
Research is… • Existing data – desk research; lit reviews; census and demographics; analysis of existing records • New data – interviews, surveys, focus groups, workshops, feedback forms, panels, conferences
Why is research important? • Because it underpins ‘the three Ps’ of effective environmental education • Plausability is a key principle of planning. Sustainability needs to reflect the priority problems and available evidence, to develop activities that are appropriate, will have an impact, and deliver effective outcomes. • Participation is a key principle of implementation. Interventions that are informed and tested by a range of perspectives, based on collaboration and oriented for action, is more likely to deliver effective and sustainable outcomes. • Persuasiveness is a key principle to support future directions. Interventions that can demonstrate learning, document outcomes, link to related initiatives and secure strategic support, will enhance sustainability and deliver strategic directions.
An example: Litter prevention program logic • ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT – reduced litter and reduced impacts of litter - environmental, social & economic • Increased capacity to address litter (and other env. issues) Ultimate outcomes Intermediate outcomes • CHANGES IN COMMUNITY knowledge, attitudes, behaviours around litter and littering Immediate outcomes • PARTICIPATION - by councils, NGOs, partnerships, increased fines • Fines • Public communications (social marketing) • Training • Local grants (KAB, CUA, NGOs, councils) • Research & evaluation Activities (outputs) • Build capacity of litter educators (council staff, schools, NGOs) • Change community norms around littering • Introduce new regulations effectively • Reduce litter (caused by more take-away, snacking & grazing, smoking outside) Needs
Annual total litter (kg) Annual total organics (kg) Annual rainfall Annual total other (kg) Ultimate outcomeLitter captured in Sydney GPTs & trash racks 1992-2002 Rainfall (mm)
Purpose: effectiveness Completed evaluation framework - example
Institutional Sphere Catchment characteristics, stakeholder values, activities and impacts, inter-organisational relationships, funding, mandates and jurisdictions Organisational Sphere Council structure, management and processes Project Sphere Aims, objectives, interventions, communications, project drivers Why is social research important? Because it promotes education for sustainability
Why is social research important? • Because it promotes education for sustainability
Complex (‘wicked’) issues: managing unknowns Unknown Building the constituency Methods solutions Existing Known Objectives; desired results Known Unknown
Features of ‘wicked’ issues • difficult to define – nature, extent and causes of the problem are debated • often not stable and policy makers have to focus on a moving target • many interdependencies, often multi-causal and require multi-disciplinary responses • responsibility of several organisations - hardly ever sit conveniently within one • may have internally conflicting goals that require trade-offs
More features of wicked issues • attempts to address them often lead to unforeseen consequences • have no clear solution, are rarely completely solved and it may be inappropriate to raise expectations that they will be solved • are socially complex - it is often their social and organisational complexity rather than their technical complexity that makes them difficult to solve • involve changing behaviour– this is difficult • some are characterised by chronic policy failureand seem intractable.
Dealing with complexity (i) Governance and evaluation through distributed decision making and learning systems • Participatory program management • multi-stakeholder; cross sectoral • Multidisciplinary teams • Educators, policy, science, regulators • Adaptive management • evidence-based decision-making, reflective practice, action research, learning communities and organisations
Dealing with complexity (ii) Adaptive management
Conclusions - understanding, managing, using research • Research is a process, not a product • Integrate into all stages of program: designing, monitoring and reflecting on success • Use research to adaptively manage the project (formative) • Communicate/report, discuss, theorise, redesign (summative)
Key Messages • Effective sustainability work depends on social research • Values, norms, methods, tools, dissemination • Methods follow purposes • Research is done in all stages of sustainability actions • Establishing strategy, design, effectiveness is not possible without research • Research drives sustainability beyond individual behaviour change into contexts, organisations and strategies