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The Building of a Dam: Value Conflicts in Public Decision-Making

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Public decisions concerning large projects with detrimental environmental or heritage impacts involve value conflicts which stem from the diverse interests and variety of ways of evaluating the costs and benefits of such projects. They are also framed by institutionalised procedures and practices which favour certain concerns to the detriment of others. This paper aims to contribute towards a better understanding of how these procedures and practices, namely decision support tools such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), tend to shape public decision-making processes in particular ways. It draws on a study of the public controversy surrounding the Foz Tua dam in Portugal, with a focus on the values upheld by the different parties in the controversy and their interplay in the production of justifications, specifically the actors’ positions on values and value conflicts and the restrictions posed by institutionalised public decision-making procedures on the expression and consideration of certain values.
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Keywords: Environmental Impact Assessment; environmental and heritage values; public decision-making; value conflicts

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • 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 a Journal Impact Factor (2020) of 2.518. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.313.
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