Dissertation Abstracts

Modelling Policy Networks for Managing Climate Change in Ireland

Author: Wagner, Paul M, paul.wagner.1@ucdconnect.ie
Department: Sociology
University: University College Dublin, Ireland
Supervisor: Diane Payne
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Climate Change , Social Network Analy , Policy , Ireland
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Organization , Environment and Society


Despite there being almost unanimous agreement by climate scientists about the dangers resulting from global climate change, there has been no similar agreement about what should be done in response. What to do about climate change is a polarizing question in many societies because it demands a substantial increase in government intervention in the economy as well as an increase in the regulation of people’s everyday behaviors and consumption practices. The government actions that are necessary in order to tackle climate change challenge some strongly held ideological beliefs about the role of government and are often bitterly contested by the different interests groups, each of which has an incentive to defend their own interests. As a consequence, a country’s response and the policies it develops in order to fulfill its international commitments does not just depend on having the right institutions in place to address the problem, but also on the level of engagement by the different interest groups and their ability to coordinate with their allies in order to pressure or persuade the government to implement the policies that they desire.

This study will investigate the way in which Irish society has responded to the challenges posed by climate change. This thesis makes the argument that there is a network of organizations involved in the Irish climate change policymaking process and that a study of their actions and interactions, as well as the context in which these occur, will enable us to better understand how the relationships between these organizations shape policy outcomes. This study will also make a contribution to the theoretical and empirical literature on both policy networks and the literature describing the Irish policy making process. The study makes use of methodologies from the field of social network analysis, as well as ideas found in some of the most prominent theories that describe the policy making process.