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What is going wrong with community engagement? How flood communities and flood authorities construct engagement and partnership working

Mehring, P., Geoghegan, H., Cloke, H. L. and Clark, J. M. (2018) What is going wrong with community engagement? How flood communities and flood authorities construct engagement and partnership working. Environmental Science & Policy, 89. pp. 109-115. ISSN 1462-9011

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2018.07.009


In this paper, we discuss the need for flood risk management in England that engages stakeholders with flooding and its management processes, including knowledge gathering, planning and decision-making. By comparing and contrasting how flood communities experience ‘community engagement’ and ‘partnership working’, through the medium of an online questionnaire, with the process’s and ways of working that the Environment Agency use when ‘working with others’, we demonstrate that flood risk management is caught up in technocratic ways of working derived from long-standing historical practices of defending agricultural land from water. Despite the desire to move towards more democratised ways of working which enable an integrated approach to managing flood risk, the technocratic framing still pervades contemporary flood risk management. We establish that this can disconnect society from flooding and negatively impacts the implementation of more participatory approaches designed to engage flood communities in partnership working. Through the research in this paper it becomes clear that adopting a stepwise, one-size-fits-all approach to engagement fails to recognise that communities are heterogenous and that good engagement requires gaining an understanding of the social dimensions of a community. Successful engagement takes time, effort and the establishment of trust and utilises social learning and pooling of knowledge to create a better understanding of flooding, and that this can lead to increasing societal connectivity to flooding and its impacts.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:77091


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