Table of Contents

New Directions in Social Impact Assessment

New Directions in Social Impact Assessment

Conceptual and Methodological Advances

Edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves

This important new book outlines current developments in thinking in the field of Social Impact Assessment (SIA). It advances the theory and practice of SIA, and argues that a dramatic shift is required in the way socioeconomic studies and community participation is undertaken. The book emphasizes that, much more than the act of predicting impacts in a regulatory context, SIA needs to be the process of managing the social aspects of development and that there needs to be a holistic and integrated approach to impact assessment. It stresses that greater attention needs to be given to ensuring that the goals of development are attained and enhanced.

Chapter 15: Enhancing Effectiveness through Deliberative Democracy

Janette Hartz-Karp and Jenny Pope

Subjects: economics and finance, valuation, environment, environmental sociology, research methods in the environment, valuation, geography, human geography, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Janette Hartz-Karp and Jenny Pope Introduction Historically, there has been a divide between social impact assessment (SIA) theorists and practitioners as to whether SIA is most effectively accomplished by technocrats or through a participatory approach with the impacted community. More recently, there is a tendency to accept a model that integrates these two approaches (Pisani and Sandham, 2006; Lockie et al., 2008). However, exactly how this integration could be achieved to maximize the potential for effective outcomes remains a significant challenge (Petts, 2003). Moreover, there are those who argue that such an approach is still too narrow, leaving SIA as peripheral to, rather than integrated with, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and that it does not adequately address traditional power inequities (O’Faircheallaigh, 2010). This chapter suggests that to improve sustainability, the SIA needs to be integrated with other forms of impact assessment and collaboration needs to be inclusive of the broader community in a more equal power relationship with the decision makers. However, to achieve this would involve a significant departure from typical impact assessments and ‘business as usual’ community engagement. It requires a paradigm shift towards integrated management of impacts and social processes, and towards collaborative governance. We propose that this can be achieved through the application of the theory and practice of deliberative democracy. Deliberative democracy Deliberative democracy is ‘decision-making by discussion among free and equal citizens’ (Elster, 1998, p. 1). Participants mirroring the population deliberate in an environment of trust, equity and mutual understanding, overcoming their differences to...

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