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 17: Conflict-sensitive Impact Assessment

Paul Kapelus, Emily Richards and Hope Sherwin

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


Paul Kapelus, Emily Richards and Hope Sherwin Introduction Seldom do companies operate within a harmonious social context. Very often tensions exist between different elements of the community, locally or nationally, and between government, private and civil society entities. In the past, companies have often chosen not to become involved in what they usually considered to be local political issues either for fear of being perceived as meddling in a nation’s domestic affairs or of exacerbating the situation. Nowadays, companies operating in contexts where low-level conflict and community tensions exist are increasingly recognizing that conflict does concern them, both because it has a direct impact on their business and also because they can actually take steps to manage the problem. Equally, companies are increasingly recognizing that their very presence can be a cause of conflict, either between them and their stakeholders, or between different segments of the community itself. This chapter looks at the complex nature of community conflict and the many ways in which companies can manage it. Although it focuses on the extractive industries, it should be generally applicable. We argue that sustainable and effective solutions lie not in higher fences and more guards, but in a management approach that understands the dynamics of the conflict, the triggers and root causes, and appreciates that managing and avoiding the escalation of conflict must be achieved by building and maintaining trust with stakeholders. Causes of conflict Conflict can be understood to mean different things. This chapter uses a broad definition of...

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