Qualitative content analysis of ACIA report

The aim of the initial text analysis was to explore the framings of climate change and the knowledge base in the chapters, rather than to test a specific hypothesis. The term framing is used to capture how certain aspects of an issue are highlighted.9 Frames are a way to describe basic cognitive structures that guide our perceptions of new information and how we represent an issue in communicating with others. In other words, they are the cognitive structures that guide what parts of the world around us that become visi-ble.10 Some authors identify two different types of frames. At one level are the discur

ACIA, Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, preface.

6 Quoted from www.ipcc.ch. Accessed October 27, 2006

7 Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work. Procedures for the preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication of IPCC reports; www.ipcc.ch.

8 Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work. Procedures for the preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication of IPCC reports; www.ipcc.ch.

9 Mitchell, et al. "Information and Influence," 315.

König, "Frame Analysis: A Primer."

sive structural frames, which we may use to organize information about a topic. At a more fundamental level are cultural frames that people use to make sense of new information. Fischer describe cultural frames "as loose, socially-generated structures in discourse which people use to organise information, and around which groups develop ideological and policy arguments."11 Searching for major framings of climate change in the ACIA reports is therefore a way to capture the overarching messages within the detail of scientific information. My emphasis has been on detecting patterns and the approach is best described as exploratory, interpretive and inductive, rather than confirmatory and deductive.12 The qualitative analysis of the scientific report was carried out by reading each of the chapters with specific attention to the following questions:

• What are the major framings of Arctic climate change and key issues brought forth in the chapter?

• What knowledge is presented in the chapter?

• Whose knowledge is presented in the chapter?

The purpose of these questions was to get a picture of the knowledge base as the chapters themselves presented it. This can be viewed as a representation of the end result of the assessment process. It can then be compared to issues raised and to actors who were active during the process, as well as to be compared with the final integrated result of other assessment processes, such as the IPCC reports. The answers to the question were often explicit and can easily be illustrated by quotes. For example, a chapter could explicitly list important sources of information (emphasis added):

This chapter assesses information on interactions between climate, UV-B radiation levels, and ecosystems from a wide range of sources including experimental manipulations of ecosystems and environments in the field; laboratory experiments; monitoring and observation of biological processes in the field; conceptual modeling using past relationships between climate and biota (paleo-analogues) and current relationships between climate and biota in different geographic areas (geographic analogues) to infer future relationships; and process-based mathematical modeling. Where possible, indigenous knowledge (limited to published sources) is included as an additional source of observational evidence.13

Key to this chapter are several detailed case studies based on extensive research with indigenous communities in a number of arctic settings.14

Likewise, major framings were identified by the chapter authors and often presented in the introductions and summaries of the chapters. A framing could also be seen in how

11 As reviewed by K. Fischer, "Locating Frames in the Discursive Universe," Sociological Research Online 2, no. 3 (1997): www.socresonline.org.uk/2/3/4.html.

12 Pat Bazeley, "Issues in Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Research," in Applying Qualitative Methods to Marketing Management Research, eds. R. Buber, J. Gadner, and L. Richards, 141-156 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

13 Chapter 7. Arctic Tundra and Polar Desert Ecosystems, 248

14 Chapter 12. Hunting,Herding, Fishing, and Gathering: Indigenous Peoples and Renewable Resource Use in the Arctic, 650.

impacts are analyzed and what is seen as the logical point of departure, where some contrasting perspectives are represented by the following quotes. The first quote below takes its starting point in the physical consequences of global climate change and the second quote in the complex reality of an individual human being:

To assess climate change impacts on societies, ecosystems, and infrastructure, possible changes in physical climate parameters must first be projected. The physical climate change projections must in turn be calculated from changes in external factors that can affect the physical climate.15

Human health status is a result of the complex interaction of genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors. "Environment" in this context includes the socioeconomic, cultural, and physical infrastructure and ecosystem factors.16

A framing can also be the authors highlighting what gives authority to specific knowledge claims, as in the following quote that gives indigenous peoples a special role:

Indigenous peoples in the Arctic have for millennia depended on and adapted to their environment. Their knowledge of their surroundings is a vital resource for their well-being. Their knowledge is also a rich source of information for others wishing to understand the arctic system.17

In addition to mining the summaries and introductions, I tried to identify key issues that reoccurred throughout the text that illustrated a certain framing. As in any qualitative analysis, there is risk of subjectiveness in the selection of key framings. However the selected passages, directly in the language used by the authors in the chapters, struck me as representative. To systematize observations from the text, quotes were tabulated for each question and each chapter. Author interviews were transcribed and analyzed in conjunction with text analysis and included special attention to the same key questions as the text analysis. Based on a combination of text and interviews, a summary analysis was then made for each chapter, which also included evaluating circumstances that might point to potential drivers behind the findings for that specific chapter. Special attention was placed on the possible role of regimes, actor networks, and scale.

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