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Researching Governance for Sustainable Development: Some Conceptual Clarifications


  • Olle Frödin

    (Department of Sociology, Lund University)


This article addresses two problems characterizing policy thinking on environmental change and sustainable development. First, the role of the social sciences in the wider processes of governance is sometimes misrepresented such that the likelihood of achieving consensual decision-making on environmental phenomena is overestimated. Second, the social science discourse on governance is plagued by conceptual confusion. This article seeks to address these problems by outlining an analytical framework for environmental governance research. In the view of this article, scientific knowledge claims are integral parts of governance processes. The article advocates a holistic understanding of governance that includes the production and diffusion of scientific knowledge, political interaction, and decision-making as well as the wider institutional context required for policy implementation and enforcement. The conclusion is that the entire governance process from the translation of scientific knowledge into policy proposals to the implementation will always be laden with politically charged opportunity costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Olle Frödin, 2015. "Researching Governance for Sustainable Development: Some Conceptual Clarifications," Journal of Developing Societies, , vol. 31(4), pages 447-466, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jodeso:v:31:y:2015:i:4:p:447-466

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