The New Digital Era of Environmental Decision-Making


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The presentation “The New Digital Era of Environmental Decision Making” deals with the contemporary phenomenon emerging with new media - environmental and social change initiatives and movements coming from the modern e-citizen.

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The New Digital Era of Environmental Decision-Making

  1. 1. The New Digital Era of Environmental Decision-Making Mgr. Karel Sál Ph.D. candidate - Institute of Political Studies Faculty of Social Sciences Charles University in Prague PhD thesis: The Position and Role of New Media between Dahl‟s Second and Third Transformation of Democracy
  2. 2. Used methods and research questions Confirming Case Study [Lijphart 1979: 692] based on the analysis of a single case (environmental protests in Turkey 2013) within the framework of the Network Society [van Dijk 2012: 24] 1. How do new media change the traditional decision-making model? 2. Can the environmental agenda be described in the political process as a wicked problem [Rittel, Webber 1974]? 3. Why and how can a clash between the citizens and the government on the local level quickly escalate into a nationwide crisis?
  3. 3. Current Changes of the DecisionMaking Model I New actors: e-citizens [Mossberger et al. 2012] • young and productive individuals, mostly students • well informed • digitally skilled • 24/7 connection to the Internet New form of society: a network society (NS) • many social and media networks at an individual, group and societal level • basic units = individuals • process = free information exchange without effective control by the state authorities
  4. 4. A Network Society Model Source: Dijk, J. van (2012): The Network Society. 3rd Edition. London: Sage. p. 30.
  5. 5. Current Changes of the DecisionMaking Model II Procedural changes: deliberation • starts 1990‟s while solving local level issues • inclusive approach, primarily for active citizens • today – discussions on Internet forums (agenda setting), online knowledge communities (policy preparation), evoting (decision-making) etc.
  6. 6. Issues of Environmental Agenda in the Network Society • governments are limited in bringing satisfactory solutions to worldwide problems • governmental concepts concerning environmental agenda and policy are vague and unclear • a vague concept or party program is safer and easier to communicate • zero contribution thesis [Olson 1965] • another theory: wicked problems
  7. 7. A New Player in the DecisionMaking Process: Green Groups Environmental behavior change: • e-citizens put emphasis on environmental issues • green behavior becomes a new social norm and an indicator of high social status Character of green groups: • web constructed groups are well informed (in their scope of interest) • well organized with natural leaders • prepared for action • interest in a local cause from a wide range of ideological groups
  8. 8. From Green Group Defiance to National Crisis: Gezi Park Protests I “Our traditional environmental understanding and culture shall be utilized in the solution of environmental issues.” • started on 28 May 2013 • iniciator: a small group of environmentalists (50 individuals) • reason: urban development plan for Istanbul‟s Taksim Gezi Park • 31 May - use of police force • a general commotion across the country followed • minimal coverage of the events by Turkish broadcasters (“old media”)
  9. 9. Source: [2013-09-12].
  10. 10. Source: [2013-09-12].
  11. 11. From Green Group Defience to National Crisis: Gezi Park protests II • more than 100,000 Turks informed through international media sources and Internet-based social media • change of the original environmental topic to the general issues of freedom of expression and press, freedom of assembly and the government‟s encroachment on Turkey‟s secularism • 8 dead and more than 4,000 injured people • 14 June Erdoğan suspends the mall construction “for now”
  12. 12. Conclusion Changes in western democracies due to new media (in general): • stronger role of non-governmental organizations, groups or individuals • democracies can no longer moderate or control the information flow • governments are more monitored on how they keep their promises
  13. 13. Further Possibilities of New Media • they can be a potent tool in creating public consensus in the case of environmental issues • and in addressing citizens to participate in the decision-making process • deliberation becomes an effective tool for solving wicked problems • finding acceptable solutions with broad public support and participation can be easier
  14. 14. References I • • • • • • • • • • • • • AKP – Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi. Party program: 5.11 Environment. Available at: (visited 2013-8-21). ANDAY, S. et al. (2012): New Media a Conflict after Arab Spring. Peaceworks No. 80, Washington: United States Institute of Peace. CNN – In concession, Erdogan halts Istanbul park plans, for now. In: CNN. 14 June, 2013. Available at: (visited 2013-8-10). DAHL, R., A. (1989): Democracy and its Critics. New Haven, London: Yale University Press. DICKINSON, J. L. et al. (2013): Can evolutionary design of social networks make it easier to be „green‟? In: Trends in Ecology & Evolution. Elsevier. pp. 1-9. (article in press) DIJK, J. van (2012): The Network Society. 3rd Edition. London: Sage. FRANK, R., H. (1985): Choosing the Right Pond: Human Behavior and the Quest for Status. Oxford University Press. GOLDSTEIN, N., J. et al. (2008): A room with a viewpoint: using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. In: J. Consum. Res. 35, pp. 472–482. HOWE, J. (2008): Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. Three Rivers Press. ITC – The International Teledemocracy Centre. Available at: (visited 2013-8-11). LIJPHART, A. (1979): Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method. In: The American Political Science Review, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 682-693. MOSSBERGER, K., et al. (2011): Digital Citizenship. The Internet society and Participation. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: The MIT Press. Dostupné z: <> (21. 7. 2013). NYT – Turkey Premier Says Protests Won‟t Stop Demolition. In: The New York Times. 3 June, 2013, pp. A8. Available at: (visited 2013-8-20).
  15. 15. References II • • • • • • • • • • OLSON, M. (1965): The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Harvard University Press. RITTEL, H., W., J., WEBBER, M., M. (1974): Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. In: Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, Amsterdam: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company. pp. 155-169. SEXTON, S., SEXTON, A. (2011): Conspicuous conservation: the Prius effect and willingness to pay for environmental bona fides. In: The Selected Works of Steven E. Sexton. Available at: (visited 2013-8-20). SCHMALENSEE, R. (2012): From “Green Growth” to sound policies: An overview. In: Energy Economics. Vol. 34, pp. S2-S6. SCHMIDT, E., COHEN, J. (2013): The New Digital Age. Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business. New York: Knopf. SOBEL, D. (2004): Place-based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities. The Orion Society. TP – Turkey Protests. Available at: (visited 2013-8-20). TTB – Demonstrator’s Health Conditions. Turkish Medical Association. 7 June, 2013. Available at: (visited 2013-8-20). ZANOTTI, J. (2013): Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations. CRS Report for Congress: Congressional Research Service. Available at: (visited 2013-8-20).
  16. 16. Thank you for your attention. Contact: +420604534485 U Kříže 8, 158 00 Praha 5 – Jinonice Czech Republic