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Between-case dialogue: public engagement in the second-person voice


Interactive public engagement on challenging environmental issues centres on dialogue, which typically focuses on views about an issue, conflict or need to act. Participants are conceived as individuals who have and can change such views. Accordingly, theory and practice attend to the variables and contexts conducive to sharing and developing views. Less attention is accorded the ‘lived experience’ that gives the personalising contexts people carry into dialogue and the stories they tell. This article scrutinises the merits of focusing on the dialogic exchange of stories, treated as cases of experience in the round. An ideal–typical between-case dialogue entails first-person case stories (‘what I see’) and second-person responses (‘what I see, from my perspective, what you see from yours’). The second-person voice operates between unique individual narratives, but retains the insights of their temporal–spatial specificity. A dialogic engagement can discover locally generalisable patterns and create new second-person understandings that advance policy aims: ‘what we see’ and, therefore, ‘what we see can (or should) be done’.

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  1. Submissions available on the EPA website (EPA nd) or on request from the author.

  2. Other than the salmon case, thee examples stem from my experiments, together with colleagues in New Zealand; see also Wolf (2013, 2014).


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I thank Priya Kurian and Debashish Munshi for suggesting the mosaic metaphor and for the opportunity to present an earlier version of this paper in Hamilton, New Zealand, in February 2014.

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Correspondence to Amanda Wolf.

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Wolf, A. Between-case dialogue: public engagement in the second-person voice. J Environ Stud Sci 6, 609–616 (2016).

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  • Dialogue
  • Environmental challenges
  • Experience
  • Public engagement
  • Second-person voice