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Residents, regulators, and risk in two industrial towns

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Phillimore, Dr Achim Schluter, Professor Tanja Pless-Mulloli, Dr Patricia Bell


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To what extent is trust in governance procedures a precondition for public engagement? This work is based on ethnographic research that examined the relationship between regulators and residents in the major chemical and petrochemical centres of Grangemouth (Scotland) and Ludwigshafen (Germany). In Grangemouth a period of rising economic insecurity coupled with intensified public concern about safety has brought regulatory authorities and the town's population into ongoing dialogue. This dialogue has been uneasy, and marked by considerable public suspicion; but it has been a dialogue of sorts, nonetheless. In Ludwigshafen the prevailing mood has remained one of confidence in the town's massive chemical industry: the notion that a routine dialogue between regulators and residents might be either necessary or desirable has rarely been articulated by either side. Questioning the tendency in the literature on public engagement in environmental policy issues to associate such engagement with trust, we suggest that, in these two case studies at least, the opposite applied. It was manifest distrust and frustration which provoked animated public engagement with government and officials in Grangemouth recently. Equally, it was the depth of trust and familiarity, built up over decades, which facilitated public disengagement from issues of environmental regulation and governance in Ludwigshafen.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Phillimore PR, Schlüter A, Pless-Mulloli T, Bell P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy

Year: 2007

Volume: 25

Issue: 1

Pages: 73-89

Print publication date: 01/02/2007

ISSN (print): 0263-774X

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1068/c0618j


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