From contradiction to contrast in a countryside conflict: Using Q Methodology to reveal a diplomatic space for doing TB differently
Environment and Planning A
© The Author(s) 2017
Environmental conflicts are often framed by an assumption that there are clear divisions between interested parties. As a result, there is a tendency to polarise debates, simplify arguments and miss opportunities for constructive engagement. While these conflicts are rarely amenable to resolution through direct dialogue, diplomacy may offer a means to generate possible political settlements. In this paper, we seek to identify the scope for such diplomacy in the seemingly entrenched conflict that surrounds the case of bovine tuberculosis and badger culling in England. First, we use Q methodological techniques to map prevailing views among concerned publics about this highly contentious and apparently intractable issue. Second, we combine this method with diplomatic theory in order to identify areas in which diplomatic modes of engagement may be constructive. Our results show that there are predictable conflictual elements within two positions organised around opposition to, and support for, the culling of badgers. These positions, which we label ‘ethical empiricist’ and ‘nostalgic autonomist’, respectively, are not always straightforwardly oppositional. Their points of contact, as well as intersections with a third, alternative, subject position, which we label ‘liberal pragmatist’, suggest starting-points for diplomacy.
The research for this paper was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant number ES/L008106/1).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from SAGE Publications via the DOI in this record.
Published online 23 August 2017