In this article, we argue that the science–policy interface can be understood as a discourse network constituted by discursive interaction between scientific organizations and other actors that both use scientific arguments in conjunction with other policy arguments. We use discourse network analysis to investigate the climate change policy process in Finland between 2002 and 2015, focusing on the role of and relationships between scientific actors and arguments in the discoursenetworks. Our data consist of policy actors’ written testimonies on two law proposals, the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (2002) and the enactment of the Finnish Climate Law (2015). Our results show that two competing discourse coalitionshave influenced the development of climate change policy in the 2000s. In 2002, the dominant coalition was economic, prioritizing economic growth over climate change mitigation. In 2015, the climate coalition that argued for ambitious mitigation measures became dominant. The majority of scientific actors were part of the dominant economy coalition in 2002 and part of the dominant ecology coalition in 2015. The centrality of scientific arguments increased over time, and both discourse coalitions used them progressively more. These developments reflect the increasingly central position of science in Finnish climate policymaking. We contribute to the literature on the science–policy interface by operationalizing the interface as a set of connections in a discourse network and by showing how the analysis of discourse networks and their properties can help us understand the shifts in the role of science in policymaking over time.

Kukkonen, Anna, & Ylä-Anttila, Tuomas
The Science–Policy Interface as a Discourse Network: Finland’s ClimateChange Policy 2002–2015
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Date / Year
Jun 2020
Politics and Governance