The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

Conceptual and Methodological Advances

Elgar original reference

Edited by Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay

This important Handbook presents an indispensable overview of the range of new methods and of the conceptual advances in Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Recent increased attention to social considerations has led to substantial development in the techniques useful to, and the thinking in, SIA. A distinguished group of contributors provides an up-to-date and comprehensive account of the cutting-edge in SIA development.

Chapter 2: Undertaking Longitudinal Research

Nick Taylor, Colin Goodrich, Gerard Fitzgerald and Wayne Taylor McClintock

Subjects: economics and finance, valuation, environment, environmental sociology, research methods in the environment, valuation, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, research methods in social policy, sociology and sociological theory


Nick Taylor, Colin Goodrich, Gerard Fitzgerald and Wayne McClintock Introduction As an important part of the planning and implementation of projects, programmes and policies, SIA is a process that is now used worldwide (Burdge and Vanclay, 1995). It is a process that uses methods of social research and analysis, as well as monitoring and public involvement (Taylor et al., 1995). Although definitions of SIA encompass social analysis, and implicitly or explicitly require research, practice is often limited by the existing research base. Little social research is conducted with the specific goal of improved SIA practice. Comparative analysis for the projection of effects is an integral part of the social assessment process (Taylor et al., 1995; Burdge, 1998), so comparative case studies using systematic social research have a key role to play in SIA. Following the early phase of development in the field, Freudenburg and Keating (1985: 583–4) made the point that ‘extrapolation’ from comparative cases with known impacts was a basic technique for anticipatory SIA. But they noted, ‘The frequent failure to make use of the relatively straightforward technique may not be due to oversight, but to the fact that the previous knowledge is often not available. Scientists cannot extrapolate from guesses alone; they need valid, reliable, empirical data.’ Their call for a stronger research base to SIA over 15 years ago seems largely to have gone unheard. The purpose of a research base for SIA is not simply to obtain empirical or descriptive data. It...

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