Paradigms in environmental management research : outline of an ecosophical-hermeneutic alternative
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Original versionJohansen, T. (2011). Paradigms in environmental management research: outline of an ecosophical-hermeneutic alternative (Doctoral thesis). University of Nordland, Bodø
The first aim of the dissertation is to develop a conceptual tool (two paradigms) for the purpose of analyzing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). This positions the dissertation in a field which includes environmental management, the philosophy of science, environmental philosophy and ethics. Thus making the research at hand, to a great extent, an interdisciplinary piece of research. Using two research paradigms, Johansen discusses six Norwegian EIA cases with regard to ontology (nature and human), perception of science, scientific ideals, ethics and esthetics. The intention of the analysis is to illuminate the paradigmatic presuppositions governing Norwegian EIA-кesearch. Part V of the dissertation discusses the transition from atomistic to holistic EIA-research. Through applying hermeneutical reflexive methodology, the thesis reveals findings of significance: the manuals on EIA and EIA reports are characterized by an ever increasing incoherence (from EIA report on Veslefrikk of 1987 to Goliat, 2009). Concretely this means that contemporary Norwegian EIA-research can be characterized as much “talk”, or promises about sound ethical and humanistic concerns, and less “walk”, or little actual research and implementation of the norms and values promised; hence then the lack of correspondence (incoherence) between values (ontology) and method/practice. The kernel message of this dissertation is to make it clear that the reason why humanistic and environmental concerns are absent and left out in the shade can be explained by the epistemological and methodological choices of EIA-researchers. These choices in turn result in consequences for ontology. The dissertation discusses it being necessary to use the epistemological position of hermeneutics in order to gain a deeper (intuitive and emphatic) understanding (‘Verstehen’) of social and environmental impacts. This method utilizes a subject-subject relationship between the researcher and the study object in order to understand the inner unique experience of subjects and social phenomena. The thesis suggests several ways forward (ontologically, epistemologically and methodologically) with regard to how current atomistic EIA-research can be developed into holistic EIA-research.
Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.) – Bodø Graduate School of Business, 2011