Ghoochani, Omid M., Azadeh Bakhshi, Matthew Cotton, Azar Hashemi Nejad, & Mansour Ghanian (2015). Environmental values in the petrochemical industry: A Q-method study in South West Iran. Environmental & Socio-economic Studies, 3(4), 1-10. (doi: 10.1515/environ-2015-0068) (Open Access:

Abstract: Achieving sustainable development in different regional and cultural contexts is dependent, in part, upon an understanding of key actors’ underlying environmental, social and economic values. The social research technique called Q-methodology presents an effective means to explore such values as a matter of discourse: revealing the typologies of stakeholder perspectives within a given debate. Q-method involves factor analysis of participant rank-ordered preselected statements on a topic. The resultant factors are then reinterpreted as social discourses. In this study we use Q-methodology to explore the environmental values of Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) managers in petrochemical companies in Khuzestan province in southwest Iran. Khuzestan is a key region of petrochemical product development, with significant associated environmental pollution effects. Understanding HSE managers’ attitudes to environmental protection is of value in predicting broader environmental impacts to the region, given the relative importance of their role in regulating the environmental performance of this industry. Our results reveal four distinct and varied perspectives on environmental protection labelled: ‘Environmental stewardship’, ‘Environmental presentism’, ‘Technological optimism’ and ‘Enlightened anthropocentrism’. We then discuss how these four emergent perspectives correspond to broader environmental discourses as categorized by John Dryzek: i.e. green rationalism, economic rationalism, prometheanism and ecological modernization respectively.

Mansour Ghanian <> is in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, Ramin Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Khuzestan, Iran.