The concepts salience, legitimacy, and credibility do not address how actors or actor networks might use regimes to influence knowledge production and how norms, structures, and decision-making procedures may influence their role. To investigate the role of regimes, I will therefore also use another set of analytical concepts, from the literature on institutional dimensions of environmental change: fit, interplay, and scale The purpose for introducing these concepts is to investigate their analytical value when applied to the question of how political structures might influence knowledge production. They are also used for highlighting the role of regimes in relation to salience, legitimacy and credibility.
The problem of fit is about the congruence or compatibility between an institutional arrangement and the issue area which it attempts to manage, for example, the congru-ency between an ecosystem and the institution created to manage that ecosystem.97 Fit is relevant in studying science-policy interactions in that it is not always self-evident how
96 Ronald B. Mitchell, William C. Clark, David W. Cash, and Nancy M. Dickson, "Evaluating the Influence of Global Environmental Assessments," in Global Environmental Assessments: Information and Influence, Global Environmental Assessments: Information and Influence, 1-28 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006).
97 Carl Folke, Lowell Prichard, Fikret Berkes, Johan Colding, and Uno Svedin, The Problem of Fit Between Ecosystems and Institutions (Bonn: International Human Dimensions Programme, 1998); Young, The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change. Fit, Interplay, and Scale, 20.
the system that is to be managed should be defined. Climate change is a prime example. From an atmospheric science point of view, the climate system is viewed as global. However, developing countries have challenged this global perspective, especially for looking at emissions of greenhouse gases, arguing that a global view obscures the fact that the industrialized North is responsible for most of the current emissions. A key question is thus what attributes of an environmental problem are the most important to consider in analyzing fit.98 In studying knowledge production, the concept of fit needs to be scrutinized and attention placed on how the way in which knowledge production is structured plays a role in defining what we understand as the boundaries of a particular environmental issue. Knowledge production on climate change has historically been focused primarily at the global level, and that may well be a major reason why we primarily define it as a global political issue, but what are the drivers or circumstances that have led to this global focus in climate research? And what happens to our understanding of climate change when the focus is shifted to local, regional, or national levels?
Closely related to the issue of fit is how environmental problems can be understood in dimensions of time and space. This is often summarized as the problem of scale. Another term used to pinpoint the same issue is level of analysis.99 Some authors differentiate the term scale, using it to refer to the type of scale, e.g. spatial scale or temporal scale, from the term level, which is used to speak about a position within a certain scale, e.g. global, regional, or local on a spatial scale and international, national, or community on a governance scale.100 However this distinction is not consistent in the literature. Gibson et al. point out that all scientific inquiry incorporates scale and level choices into the process of identifying research objects. These choices, therefore, critically affect what we observe and the patterns that become visible. Moreover, the explanation for a given phenomena can change depending on the scale at which it is studied.101 There has also been an increasing focus on cross-scale and cross-level interactions.102
Neither the spatial scale at which to conduct a study nor the procedures for integrating knowledge across spatial scales are chosen in a vacuum. Disciplinary structures and allegiances within scientific communities can play a role, as can funding opportunities and institutional settings that may facilitate or hinder collaborations among people focusing on different scales or levels. Scale is thus an issue that should be probed in trying to understand knowledge production that influences how we frame environmental problems. From an international relations point of view, it would be especially interesting to
98 Young, The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change. Fit, Interplay, and Scale, 21.
99 Clark C. Gibson, Elinor Ostrom, and T. K. Ahn, "The Concept of Scale and the Human Dimensions of Global Change: a Survey," Ecological Economics 32, (2000): 217; Young, The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change. Fit, Interplay, and Scale, 26.
100 David Cash, W. N. Adger, Fikret Berkes, Po Garden, Louis Lebel, Per Olsson, and Oran R. Young, "Scale and Cross-Scale Dynamics: Governance and Information in a Multilevel World," Ecology and Society 10, no. 2 (2005): 8.
101 Gibson, et al., "The Concept of Scale and the Human Dimensions of Global Change: A Survey," 121, 126; Young, The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change. Fit, Interplay, and Scale, 26-27, 139 ff.
102 E.g. Cash and Moser, "Linking Global and Local Scales"; Folke, et al. "Synthesis: Building Resilience and Adaptive Capacity in Social-Ecological Systems," 378; Doris Capistrano, Cristian K. Samper, Marcus J. Lee, and Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, eds. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being. Multiscale Assessments Vol. 4 (Washington, Covelo, London: Island Press, 2006).
analyze how international regimes influence these processes. What happens when new regimes and actors, concerned with different spatial scales, get involved in an issue? Are dynamics at the international regional level governed by different structures compared to the global level?
There are a rising number of international institutions that are concerned with environmental issues and this increasing density is likely to lead to a growing interaction among institutions.103 This is referred to as interplay.104 Interplay can be horizontal when institutions working at the same governance level deal with similar matters. The global regime for protecting the ozone layer - the Vienna Convention with its various protocols - thus interacts with the UNFCCC on several issues, for example in the control of substances that affect both climate and the ozone layer. Interplay can also be vertical. This is when institutions working at different levels are involved in the same is-sue.105 An example is that climate change is of concern globally in the UNFCCC, but also at the regional level in the Arctic Council, nationally within the different Arctic states, and locally in some Arctic communities. Both vertical and horizontal interplay are relevant in a study of knowledge production in that they provide analytical lenses for specifically looking at how dynamics between institutions at different levels of governance affect the framing of climate change.106
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