Engagement in the digital age: Understanding “what works” for participatory technologies in environmental decision-making

Hafferty, Caitlin ORCID: 0000-0002-4512-1338, Reed, Mark S, Brockett, Beth, Orford, Scott, Berry, Robert ORCID: 0000-0002-7714-5211, Short, Christopher J ORCID: 0000-0003-0429-1143 and Davis, Joshua M ORCID: 0000-0001-9499-4285 (2024) Engagement in the digital age: Understanding “what works” for participatory technologies in environmental decision-making. Journal of Environmental Management, 365. ART 121365. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2024.121365 (In Press)

14184 Hafferty, Reed, Brockett, Orford, Berry, Short, Davis (2024) Engagement in the digital age - understanding 'what works' for participatory technologies in environmental decision-making.pdf - Published Version
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Effective engagement is crucial for enhancing environmental decision-making processes, fostering more sustainable and equitable outcomes. However, the success of engagement is highly variable and context-dependent. While theoretical frameworks have been developed to explain outcome variance in engagement in environmental decision-making, they have not yet been tested in digital contexts, leaving their applicability to digital engagement processes unclear. More broadly, there are unanswered questions about the effectiveness of digital tools in achieving the goals of engagement, which have become increasingly pertinent amidst growing concerns about the potential of digital technologies for exacerbating exclusions, ethical issues, and systematically undermining democratic progress. This paper addresses this evidence gap by presenting findings from interviews with practitioners in UK public, private, and third sector organisations. Our results provide empirical insights into the technical, ethical, and inclusivity debates surrounding digital tools and their effectiveness in promoting accessible engagement, high-quality social interaction, place-based decision-making, and more trustworthy and credible outcomes. Our findings indicate that while current engagement theories are applicable to digital environments, the key explanatory factors acquire new dimensions in digital compared to in-person contexts. Drawing on the findings, this study contributes novel insights to expand current theory for explaining “what works” in engagement in environmental decisions, enhancing its relevance and applicability in the digital age. The paper concludes with evidence-led recommendations for environmental practitioners to improve engagement processes in digital and remote settings.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Engagement; Digital; Decision-making; Practitioners; Theory; United Kingdom
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Depositing User: Marie Steytler
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2024 11:18
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2024 12:22
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/14184

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