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Framing elite policy discourse: science and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Templeton, Jessica (2011) Framing elite policy discourse: science and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Rising levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the environment have spurred governments around the world to engage in cooperative action on a global scale to control those chemicals that pose significant threats to human health and the environment. Political efforts to mitigate the risks posed by these chemicals are impeded by the technical complexity associated with POPs pollution, and are thus predicated on the scientific assessments of experts in fields such as chemistry and toxicology. Policymakers’ reliance on scientific expertise for guidance on risk assessment and management has reduced their control over policy and has given scientists authority to determine socially acceptable levels of risk, thus blurring the boundaries between science and politics. Conversely, the implications of science-based decision-making have increased the interest and involvement of political actors in a phase of evaluation that is often seen as objective, fact-based, and free of political interest. This thesis analyzes the ways in which various actors with scientific expertise – representatives of governments, industry, and environmental/public health NGOs – working under the auspices of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have used strategic issue framing tactics to promote predetermined policy agendas during the scientific review of chemicals proposed for regulation. This research breaks new ground by analyzing the ways elite decision-makers strategically frame issues in order to influence the policy preferences of other elites, and by evaluating the role of issue framing in the context of live policy negotiations. Key findings include the following: 1) the formation of epistemic communities of technical experts is precluded by political pressure on scientists to represent government/organizational interests, and 2) scientists strategically frame issues in ways that support the social, economic or political interests of the governments or organizations with which they are affiliated, thus contributing to the politicization of science-based decision-making.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Jessica Templeton
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Schonhardt-Bailey, Cheryl and Mason, Michael

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