Advanced

Transparency through Labelling? Layers of Visibility in Environmental Risk Management

Klintman, Mikael LU and Boström, Magnus (2008) In Transparency in a New Global Order: Unveiling Organizational Visions p.178-197
Abstract
The aim of this chapter is to move the issue a bit beyond the polarized views of

profound critical reflection versus excessive trust in the checking procedures behind

standards. We claim that the polarized views are largely due to an over-simplistic

understanding of transparency. By comparing practical policy processes surrounding

various standards, we aim to provide nuance to the issue of transparency. This study ofpolicy processes, along with examinations of theoretical work in policy analysis, makes

clear the limits of merely treating transparency in terms of ‘more’ versus ‘less’. A more

thorough understanding of the promise and limits of transparency in policy processes

... (More)
The aim of this chapter is to move the issue a bit beyond the polarized views of

profound critical reflection versus excessive trust in the checking procedures behind

standards. We claim that the polarized views are largely due to an over-simplistic

understanding of transparency. By comparing practical policy processes surrounding

various standards, we aim to provide nuance to the issue of transparency. This study ofpolicy processes, along with examinations of theoretical work in policy analysis, makes

clear the limits of merely treating transparency in terms of ‘more’ versus ‘less’. A more

thorough understanding of the promise and limits of transparency in policy processes

requires, we argue, another dimension, consisting of qualitatively different ‘layers’ of

transparency. The basis for our emphasis on this additional dimension is the obvious -

yet often overlooked - notion that an examination of standards, which are in turn

claimed to disclose hidden, and often physical, risks, needs to take the political context

into account as well as the negotiations and framings surrounding the schemes on which

the standards are based. Since risks are uncertain, socially and culturally dependent, and

since they are evaluated and interpreted in many different ways by actors with diverse

ideologies and interests, a more comprehensive transparency must reach far beyond the

concrete visibility and direct awareness of the label itself.

Based on these claims we find it useful to distinguish between four layers of

transparency in relation to standards, certificates and labels: (1) simple, mediated

transparency, (2) negotiated transparency, (3) intra-frame transparency and (4) interframe

transparency (see figure 1). We maintain, nevertheless, that transparency through

standards and labels remains closely related to people’s own direct experiences of risks.

Thus, experiences and senses of our environment never loose their relevance even in

relation to very abstract, technical and expert-oriented tools. Hence, in addition, direct

experience (yet situated, interpreted, etc.) is prevalent at all these four layers.

Empirically, this chapter examines how these layers of transparency operate in

the context of standardized eco-labelling schemes that are claimed to make invisible

risks visible and manageable. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
uncertainty, eco-standards, framing, forestry, food, electricity, Transparency
in
Transparency in a New Global Order: Unveiling Organizational Visions
editor
Garsten, C, and Lindh de Montoya, M.
pages
178 - 197
publisher
Edward Elgar Publishing
external identifiers
  • Scopus:62549109223
ISBN
978-1-84542-325-4
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a1352a91-cb55-43ef-96a3-2ca8e9b3bb15 (old id 1304080)
alternative location
http://www.e-elgar.com/bookentry_main.lasso?id=3812
date added to LUP
2009-05-25 11:06:53
date last changed
2016-10-13 04:43:51
@misc{a1352a91-cb55-43ef-96a3-2ca8e9b3bb15,
  abstract     = {The aim of this chapter is to move the issue a bit beyond the polarized views of<br/><br>
profound critical reflection versus excessive trust in the checking procedures behind<br/><br>
standards. We claim that the polarized views are largely due to an over-simplistic<br/><br>
understanding of transparency. By comparing practical policy processes surrounding<br/><br>
various standards, we aim to provide nuance to the issue of transparency. This study ofpolicy processes, along with examinations of theoretical work in policy analysis, makes<br/><br>
clear the limits of merely treating transparency in terms of ‘more’ versus ‘less’. A more<br/><br>
thorough understanding of the promise and limits of transparency in policy processes<br/><br>
requires, we argue, another dimension, consisting of qualitatively different ‘layers’ of<br/><br>
transparency. The basis for our emphasis on this additional dimension is the obvious -<br/><br>
yet often overlooked - notion that an examination of standards, which are in turn<br/><br>
claimed to disclose hidden, and often physical, risks, needs to take the political context<br/><br>
into account as well as the negotiations and framings surrounding the schemes on which<br/><br>
the standards are based. Since risks are uncertain, socially and culturally dependent, and<br/><br>
since they are evaluated and interpreted in many different ways by actors with diverse<br/><br>
ideologies and interests, a more comprehensive transparency must reach far beyond the<br/><br>
concrete visibility and direct awareness of the label itself.<br/><br>
Based on these claims we find it useful to distinguish between four layers of<br/><br>
transparency in relation to standards, certificates and labels: (1) simple, mediated<br/><br>
transparency, (2) negotiated transparency, (3) intra-frame transparency and (4) interframe<br/><br>
transparency (see figure 1). We maintain, nevertheless, that transparency through<br/><br>
standards and labels remains closely related to people’s own direct experiences of risks.<br/><br>
Thus, experiences and senses of our environment never loose their relevance even in<br/><br>
relation to very abstract, technical and expert-oriented tools. Hence, in addition, direct<br/><br>
experience (yet situated, interpreted, etc.) is prevalent at all these four layers.<br/><br>
Empirically, this chapter examines how these layers of transparency operate in<br/><br>
the context of standardized eco-labelling schemes that are claimed to make invisible<br/><br>
risks visible and manageable.},
  author       = {Klintman, Mikael and Boström, Magnus},
  editor       = {Garsten, C, and Lindh de Montoya, M.},
  isbn         = {978-1-84542-325-4},
  keyword      = {uncertainty,eco-standards,framing,forestry,food,electricity,Transparency},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {178--197},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x7c482f0)},
  series       = {Transparency in a New Global Order: Unveiling Organizational Visions},
  title        = {Transparency through Labelling? Layers of Visibility in Environmental Risk Management},
  year         = {2008},
}