Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Elgar original reference
Edited by Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay
Chapter 9: Theory Formation and Application in Social Impact Assessment
Henk Becker Introduction While substantial progress has been made in discipline-oriented research in most disciplines in recent years, few of these advances have been integrated in social impact assessment (SIA) practice. The reason for this mismatch is not diﬃcult to guess. Most members of the SIA community have been trained at university in the applied sciences and in technology rather than the social sciences. In their professional careers, they have further qualiﬁed in the application and utilization of scientiﬁc knowledge and in methods related primarily to practical problems. Typically, SIA practitioners have had neither the time nor the inclination to study subjects like epistemology, methodology or theory formation. They have carried on in their daily work without much knowledge regarding matters they might consider esoteric or academic. For a long time, this neglect has been of no consequence. However, SIA is changing. More and more, it has to reﬂect upon its scientiﬁc foundations. In this chapter, we want to facilitate this process of change. This requires a number of preliminary remarks. First, we will elaborate upon the application of theory in SIA. Second, we will link the application of theory to models of the project cycle. In SIA, but also in environmental impact assessment (EIA) and other forms of assessment, the formation and application of theory is, in the ﬁrst place, important, if we are dealing with theories which present summaries of knowledge that are already available. As an example, we mention the book Di...
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