Simpson, Nicholas P., & Richard Charles Hill (2020, November). A theoretically inspired Q-methodological approach for the evaluation of public participation in environmental impact assessment. Operant Subjectivity, 42, 1-32. (doi: 10.15133/j.os.2020.001) (Access:

Abstract: This article demonstrates the use of a theoretically inspired Q-methodological approach to explore and analyse stakeholders’ perspectives of their public participation experience in environmental impact assessment (EIA). Q methodology is a qualitative and quantitative approach designed to explore the breadth of social perspectives on a topic. Two evaluation themes explore the procedure and the skills and capacities necessary for participation. Each theme is elaborated through selected theoretical notions drawn from planning, socio-political, and human development literatures. The methodology was applied to two EIA case studies in South Africa and a selection of consent authorities. The findings indicate a range of participation experiences in the cases which highlight and contextualise procedural and capacity constraints in the South African practice. The research also demonstrates that a theoretically inspired Q-methodological approach can be a flexible, contextually appropriate and expedient research tool for public participation evaluation in environmental planning and monitoring practices.

Nicholas P Simpson <> is with the African Climate & Development Initiative, and Richard Charles Hill <> is in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.