Date of Award

6-30-2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Art

Sub-Department

Earth and Environment Resources Management

First Advisor

Neal Woods

Abstract

Frames can be perspectives about people, objects, events, or settings that guide action based on past experiences and values. Conflicts are created by different stakeholders “holding conflicting frames.” Researchers in the past have used framing analysis to try and better understand environmental conflicts that tend to perpetuate for extended periods of time. A set of researchers have relied on specific framing categories and typologies as a framework for analysis. They have found that the strong presence or lack thereof certain frames can tell us a lot about conflict dynamics and shed light into the undercurrents driving the complexity of the dispute. This insight can be used to make management recommendations moving forward in an effort to help resolve the conflicts.

The following study looks at two natural resource based conflicts in an attempt to build upon past case study research. The first conflict takes place in South Carolina dealing with surface water withdrawal regulations. The second occurs in New Jersey involving the construction of a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands National Reserve. Both cases are relatively new and in their early stages compared to the cases studied by past researchers. Conducting a comparative analysis is consistent with past studies and strengthens the findings and discussions within this work. The study focused on describing the presence of three initial framing categories taken from past works that are of particular importance for studying natural resource conflicts. Respectively the categories look at stakeholder’s negative perceptions of each other, how they see the conflict should be managed going forward, and their general perceptions on how decisions regarding social issues should be made. The results showed patterns of such frame usage that often further divided stakeholders and were clearly impeding conflict resolution. Although not all, several framing typologies were present in both cases and there were substantial differences as well as similarities across cases. Other framing categories emerged that did not fit a specific category and were included the analysis making for an interesting discussion. The results of this analysis provide useful insight for managers. Managers can then take steps going forward to help remedy the controversy and encourage resolution. The focus of which will be to “build common ground”, overcoming divisions created by clashing stakeholder perspectives.

Past researchers have used framing analysis to look how stakeholders of the same “generically labeled group” make sense of issues within a conflict. They have raised the question of whether or not stakeholders of the same group make sense of issues in a similar way? Traditionally it has been assumed that such conflicts are driven primarily by divisions between stakeholders of different groups i.e. industry or farmer’s vs environmentalists. However, using framing analysis researchers have refuted this “assumption”. Researchers have found that at times stakeholders of the same “traditionally affiliated group” frame issues in a different way creating conflict. The results from this work support their findings. This is important for managers as they should be careful not to overlook key divisions between stakeholders of the same group. Instead of focusing on labels, scholars have contended that we should look at framing to better understand stakeholder divisions driving conflict dynamics.

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