At a general level, our understanding or knowledge about an issue can be captured in how we frame it. Framing refers to how we define a problem, its impacts, and potential solutions in ways that highlight certain aspects and downplay others.19 Frames depict the basic cognitive structures that guide how the world around us becomes visible to us.20 In scientific assessments, framing influences what features of an issue are included or excluded within a specific context. Framing is important because it molds the rhetoric of policy debates.21 This dissertation uses an analysis of how framings of Arctic climate change have developed over time as a way of unraveling the circumstances that have contributed to highlighting certain aspects of Arctic climate change.
The term framing can be placed in a research tradition that emphasizes that knowledge is the result of social processes. When discussing policy-relevant science, the term co-production of science and policy is increasingly used in the literature. It emphasizes that a myriad of interactions structure both knowledge production and policy and that knowledge and power are intimately intertwined.22 A co-production view can be placed in contrast to ways of conceptualizing the science-policy interface that are captured in the phrase "science speaking truth to power."23
Environmental change is often framed as a global issue, both scientifically and politically. This calls for an analysis of the role that social structures in the international system might play in gathering and organizing knowledge. For example, we need to recognize that a certain structure might lead to an emphasis on particular ways of understanding environmental and social changes, while de-emphasizing others. Moreover, an increasing amount of environmental research and a growing number of assessments of environmental challenges are conducted under the auspices of international institutions. Some institutions cover only a certain issue area, such as climate change, while others focus on a broader scope of common interests, for example in a region. Regardless of which, their increasing role in international society makes it important to understand their role, not only to international politics, but also in shaping our understanding of the world. Although research focusing on institutions has shown that they can play a role in
19 Ronald B. Mitchell, William C. Clark, and David W. Cash, "Information and Influence," in Global Environmental Assessments: Information and Influence, eds. Ronald B. Mitchell, William C. Clark, David W. Cash, and Nancy M. Dickson, 307-338 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), 315.
20 Thomas König, "Frame Analysis: A Primer," http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/mmethods/resources/links/frames_primer.html (Accessed 3 Oct. 2006).
21 Alexander E. Farrell and Jill Jäger, "Overview. Understanding Design Choices," in Assessments of Regional and Global Environmental Risks. Designing Processes for the Effective Use of Science in Decisionmaking, eds. Alexander E. Farrell and Jill Jäger, 1-24 (Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 2006), 15.
22 Bruno Latour, Science in Action (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987); Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993); Sheila Jasanoff and Brian Wynne, "Science and Decision Making," in Human Choice & Climate. Vol. 1. The Societal Framework, eds. Steve Rayner and Elizabeth L. Malone, 1-87 (Columbus, Ohio: Battelle Press, 1998); Shiela Jasanoff, ed. States of Knowledge. The Co-Production of Science and Social Order (London and New York: Routledge, 2004).
23 Aaron Wildavsky, Speaking Truth to Power. The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis (Boston: Little Brown, 1979).
shaping knowledge, this facet of the co-production of science and policy has not been extensively explored. There is, for example, a need to understand how different international governance arrangements relate to each other and their role in relation to various actors.
This dissertation will thus focus on how international structural dynamics shape knowledge production. By structure, I mean the context and the condition that define the range of actions available for the various actors. It can be placed in contrast to agency, which is the individual or group abilities to affect the environment.24 I will specifically focus on the role of international regimes. As discussed in detail in Chapter 2 of this dissertation, I use the word regime to capture the principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue area or area of international relations.25 This dissertation explores their role in shaping our understanding of the world by analyzing the development of knowledge about Arctic climate change. As an analytical counterpoint to the focus on structure in the regime concept, the analysis will also pay attention to how actors and actor networks link or relate to regimes or other structures in international society.
Was this article helpful?