In the last decade, many arguments have emerged for encouraging public participation in environmental policy making and management. While some have argued that, in democratic societies, people simply have a right to a participatory role, others base arguments for public participation on the idea that lay people may have access to knowledge which is unknown to officially sanctioned experts. Local people may count as experts about aspects of their neighbourhood or they may have insights into the behaviour of plant operators that is thought to give rise to pollution. This paper reports on a novel empirical approach to analysing and capturing such 'lay' understandings. This technique ('participatory modelling'), developed in ESRC-funded work in the UK, uses community mapping exercises in urban centres to produce spatial representations of local knowledges about air pollution and related problems of noise and odour. In the paper the technique is outlined, presenting data from the three-city case study. The paper concludes by assessing the ways in which participatory modelling can contribute to the local governance of air quality.
Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.
Environmental Values has an impact factor (2013) of 1.739.