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Network processes related to political discourse and policy positions : the case of climate change policy networks in Canada Howe, Adam C.


In this dissertation I address the question of how social-structural network processes (such as the structural position of network actors, social influence, and social selection) are related to political discourses, perceived political influence, and policy positions of network actors, with respect to global climate change in the context of Canadian climate change policy making. Based on data collected from representatives of organizations, I conduct a series of analyses focused on aspects of this broader theoretical question. I begin by structurally analyzing five different types of network relations amongst climate change policy actors in Canada focusing on subgroup membership and core-periphery structures. The network relations are collaboration, communication, sharing of scientific information (these three are types of interaction networks), perceived influence in domestic climate change policy, and perceived influence on the respondent’s own organization (these two are types of influence networks). I find that subgroups comprised mainly of research and environmental actors are central within interaction networks, but less central in influence networks. Conversely, groups comprised mainly of business and government actors are less central in interaction networks and highly central in influence networks. I then build on this finding by analyzing how media coverage for environmental actors is associated with their perceived policy influence. I find a negative association between media coverage and perceived policy influence for individual activists, but not for environmental movement organizations. This finding challenges established literature that suggests environmental actors who garner more media coverage should be perceived as more influential in policy networks. Then I build on extant research on policy networks that focuses on explaining policy successes and/or failures that often rely on the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF). I argue this ACF approach leads to an incomplete understanding of the social dynamics of climate change policy making. I incorporate a policy network analytic approach to show the role that micro-structural network processes related to reciprocity, structural equivalence and transitive closure play in giving rise to informal policy networks, along with policy beliefs.

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