On the Acoustics of Policy Learning: Can Co‐Participation in Policy Forums Break Up Echo Chambers?

Malkamäki, Arttu, Wagner, Paul, Brockhaus, Maria, Toppinen, Anne and Ylä‐Anttila, Tuomas (2021) On the Acoustics of Policy Learning: Can Co‐Participation in Policy Forums Break Up Echo Chambers? Policy Studies Journal, 49 (2). pp. 431-456. ISSN 0190-292X

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12378


Overcoming common‐pool resource dilemmas requires learning across different sectors of society. However, policy actors frequently entrench themselves in so‐called echo chambers by preferring to rely on information from those whose policy beliefs resemble their own. Policy forums can reduce the limiting effects of echo chambers by encouraging actors with diverse knowledge bases to exchange information and learn from one another. This paper applies exponential random graph models to network data from the South African tree plantation policy domain to investigate how belief homophily, reputational influence, and forum co‐participation shape information exchange behavior. Results show that echo chambers are important determinants of information exchange ties and that reputational influence is likely to "deepen" the echo. Results also show that the more forums that a pair of actors co‐participate in, the more likely they are to exchange information. This applies to information exchange generally, as well as information exchange with trusted partners. Findings indicate that forums enable both cognitive learning (as knowledge gains) and relational learning (as improved relations). Nonetheless, when echo chambers are strong, and many forums are polarized, then forum co‐participation may not break up echo chambers.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This work was supported by the Doctoral Programme in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources of the University of Helsinki (AGFOREE). The first author gratefully acknowledges the support of travel grants for data collection through the Finnish Forest Foundation, Metsämiesten Säätiö Foundation, and the University of Helsinki Chancellor's Travel Grant. Other funding that enabled the completion of this work include Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki Research Funds, and Kone Foundation.
Uncontrolled Keywords: adaptive governance, forest landscape restoration, policy forums, policy networks, social learning, South Africa
Subjects: L100 Economics
L200 Politics
L300 Sociology
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2020 14:08
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2021 03:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43424

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