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Exploring the lay/expert divide: The attribution of responsibilities for coal ash pollution in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Castán Broto, V; (2012) Exploring the lay/expert divide: The attribution of responsibilities for coal ash pollution in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Local Environment , 17 (8) 879 - 895. 10.1080/13549839.2012.714753.

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Abstract

Invoking expert knowledge is a common strategy in attempts to settle environmental disputes. However, the validity of expertise is contingent upon the context in which an actor is recognised as an expert. In complex environmental conflicts the distinction between lay and expert knowledge is not always fixed a priori. However, as conflicts unfold, intervening parties tend to present their cases in ways that reinforce this distinction. This is apparent in the attribution of environmental responsibilities. This paper presents an empirical case of an environmental conflict related to land contamination due to coal ash disposal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The analysis revealed two polar positions in the conflict: the first one, mainly held by scientists and industry representatives, invoked expert knowledge and presented a distributed approach to the attribution of responsibilities; the second one, mainly held by local residents and municipal officials, presented an experiential understanding of pollution, as lay knowledge, and attributed direct responsibilities to the local energy industry. The paper concludes that the persistence of the distinction between expert and lay knowledge is a manifestation of the social structures that underlie the conflict. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Type:Article
Title:Exploring the lay/expert divide: The attribution of responsibilities for coal ash pollution in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
DOI:10.1080/13549839.2012.714753
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Development Planning Unit

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