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Swiss direct democracy : the dark side of Habermas : an inquiry into participation for sustainability

Späth, Leonhard LU (2013) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20131
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Stakeholders’ participation has been recognized as a pillar for a transition toward a more sustainable society. However, there is little empirical evidence concerning the viability of participation mechanisms at large scale. This research analyzes a popular referendum process in Switzerland against a law that would have been a step toward a low-carbon society in the Canton of Fribourg. Aiming to investigate the citizens’ reasons to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’, the critical theory of Habermas has been used as a framework. A first round of citizens’ interviews revealed that instrumental valuation of environment and sustainability is not the main driver leading citizens to take non-sustainable decisions. Furthermore, aiming to investigate the reasons... (More)
Stakeholders’ participation has been recognized as a pillar for a transition toward a more sustainable society. However, there is little empirical evidence concerning the viability of participation mechanisms at large scale. This research analyzes a popular referendum process in Switzerland against a law that would have been a step toward a low-carbon society in the Canton of Fribourg. Aiming to investigate the citizens’ reasons to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’, the critical theory of Habermas has been used as a framework. A first round of citizens’ interviews revealed that instrumental valuation of environment and sustainability is not the main driver leading citizens to take non-sustainable decisions. Furthermore, aiming to investigate the reasons of the low participation at the referendum, Lukes’s radical view of power has been used. A second round of interviews revealed two main mechanisms that fostered citizens’ inaction toward voting: a low deliberation quality and a lack of deliberation space. These results show the effects of a public sphere being inactivated through economic and power-related imperatives. The revealed inactivation mechanisms suggest that new deliberation forms and spaces have to be investigated and fostered for a transition toward a sustainable society through participation. (Less)
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author
Späth, Leonhard LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20131
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Switzerland, Lukes, sustainability science, Habermas, referendum
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2013:008
language
English
id
3810716
date added to LUP
2013-06-13 15:50:17
date last changed
2013-06-13 15:50:17
@misc{3810716,
  abstract     = {Stakeholders’ participation has been recognized as a pillar for a transition toward a more sustainable society. However, there is little empirical evidence concerning the viability of participation mechanisms at large scale. This research analyzes a popular referendum process in Switzerland against a law that would have been a step toward a low-carbon society in the Canton of Fribourg. Aiming to investigate the citizens’ reasons to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’, the critical theory of Habermas has been used as a framework. A first round of citizens’ interviews revealed that instrumental valuation of environment and sustainability is not the main driver leading citizens to take non-sustainable decisions. Furthermore, aiming to investigate the reasons of the low participation at the referendum, Lukes’s radical view of power has been used. A second round of interviews revealed two main mechanisms that fostered citizens’ inaction toward voting: a low deliberation quality and a lack of deliberation space. These results show the effects of a public sphere being inactivated through economic and power-related imperatives. The revealed inactivation mechanisms suggest that new deliberation forms and spaces have to be investigated and fostered for a transition toward a sustainable society through participation.},
  author       = {Späth, Leonhard},
  keyword      = {Switzerland,Lukes,sustainability science,Habermas,referendum},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Swiss direct democracy : the dark side of Habermas : an inquiry into participation for sustainability},
  year         = {2013},
}