The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment
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The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

Conceptual and Methodological Advances

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.
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Chapter 3: Using Local Knowledge

James Baines, Wayne McClintock, Nick Taylor and Brigid Buckenham


James Baines, Wayne McClintock, Nick Taylor and Brigid Buckenham Introduction The concept of ‘local knowledge’ can be used to examine the role of community consultation and participation in SIA. Local knowledge refers to information and understanding about the state of the biophysical and social environments that has been acquired by the people of a community which hosts (or will host) a particular project or programme. The origins of the term ‘local knowledge’ (Herrera, 1981; Mazur and Titilola, 1992) are found in the literature of rural technology transfer in Third World countries. There it has been variously referred to as traditional knowledge (Moles, 1989), traditional environmental knowledge (Morin-Labatut and Akhtar, 1992), indigenous technical knowledge (Howes and Chambers, 1979), people’s knowledge (Wignaraja, 1991) and rural people’s knowledge (Chambers, 1983). The local knowledge of any community has evolved over a period of time from the interaction of the people’s cultural values and social organization with the physical environment in which they dwell. As such, it is a mixture of knowledge that has evolved within that community, and knowledge that has been acquired from outsiders (Morin-Labatut and Akhtar, 1992). Thus many social scientists (for example, Chambers, 1983; Richards, 1985; Gamser, 1988; Mazur and Titilola, 1992) have proposed that agricultural scientists use both local knowledge and western scientific knowledge to promote sustainable development. Taylor et al. (1995) present the project or programme cycle (see Figure 3.1) in order to demonstrate how the SIA process can provide an interface between the knowledge and interests of...

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