Skip to Main Content
Diagnostic reframing of intractable environmental problems: Case of a contested multiparty public land-use conflictAuthor(s): Stanley T. Asah; David N. Bengston; Keith Wendt; Kristen C. Nelson
Source: Journal of Environmental Management. 108: 108-119.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (154.49 KB)
DescriptionIntractable conflicts are omnipresent in environmental management. These conflicts do not necessarily resist resolution but need to be fundamentally transformed in order to reach agreement. Reframing, a process that allows disputants to create new alternative understandings of the problem, is one way of transforming these conflicts. Cognitive and interactional reframing are the two major approaches to conflict transformation. These approaches have some drawbacks. Cognitive reframing does not guarantee commensurate consideration of all disputants' views about the problem. Interactional reframing is prone to inter-disputant influences that interfere with presenting the problems as accurately as they exist in disputants' minds. Inadequate consideration of other disputants' views and inter-disputant influences often lead to inaccurate problem identification and definition. This in turn leads to solving the wrong problem, enabling intractability to persist. Proper problem identification and definition requires commensurate consideration of all sides of the conflict while minimizing inter-disputant influences. From a problem diagnosis perspective, we show how Q methodology is used to reframe environmental problems, rendering them more tractable to analysis while minimizing the influence of who disputants are talking with, and without ignoring the perspectives of other disputants. Using a case of contentious All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use in a state-administered public land, conflicting parties reframed the problem by prioritizing issues, outlining areas and levels of consensus and disagreement, and revealing inherent unrecognized and/or unspoken agendas. The reframing process surprisingly revealed several areas of common ground in disputants' diagnosis of the problem, including lack of emphasis on environmental protection and uncoordinated management factions. Emergent frames were misaligned on some issues, such as the behaviors of ATV riders and the role of management, including political and economic influences on decision making. We discuss how the reframing process enhances tractability of multiparty environmental problems. We point to some limitations of Q methodology as a tool for the diagnostic reframing of such problems.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationAsah, Stanley T.; Bengston, David N.; Wendt, Keith; Nelson, Kristen C. 2012. Diagnostic reframing of intractable environmental problems: Case of a contested multiparty public land-use conflict. Journal of Environmental Management. 108: 108-119.
Keywordsdiagnostic reframing, intractable environmental conflict, Q methodology, consensus, cognitive reframing, interactional reframing
- Prognostic framing of stakeholders' subjectivities: A case of all-terrain vehicle management on state public lands
- An enquiry on forest areas reported to the global forest resources assessment—is harmonization needed?
- The quandaries and promise of risk management: a scientist's perspective on integration of science and management.
XML: View XML