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Author(s): Duarte de Almeida, I.
Craveiro, J.
Silva, J.
Date: 2016
Title: Erosion perceptions, beliefs and the sustainability of coastal areas: an individual or collective endeavour?
Volume: 22
Event title: 2nd International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference ISDRS 2016
ISBN: 9789726747918
Keywords: Coastal erosion
Social perception of risk
Public participation
Sustainability and social inclusion
Abstract: Coastal erosion (CE) is a phenomenon that has undergone a conceptual evolution. Nowadays, it is considered a physical and social process that is scientifically studied, quantified, and technically mitigated. It may also be approached by following the individual/collective perceptions of coastal communities. Risk and vulnerability associated with CE may also be addressed by considering different aspects that require a differentiated and trans-disciplinary analysis. A gap regarding the social perception of CE in Portuguese coastal communities was detected in the literature review. Therefore, the initial questions and aim of this study are, as follows: to research the social perceptions of CE and to understand how they impact public decisions/participation aimed at mitigating CE. The purpose of this research, supported by a hypothetical-deductive-approach, is exploratory and followed a multiple-case study strategy. The study was conducted using a mixed methodological paradigm (qualitative and quantitative). The Paramos/Espinho and Costa-da-Caparica cases, which differ environmentally, geographically and socioeconomically, were selected. Social and environmental vulnerability indicators were determined through the Analytical-Hierarchy-Process. These indicators were used to structure/draft the exploratory interviews and a questionnaire. These were applied to three categories of stakeholders: politicians/decision-makers, presidents of recreational associations and fishermen/inhabitants; all chosen by convenience sampling. The interviews identified both the historical and current perception of CE, as well as the public-institutional interaction within the scope of the planned/executed interventions targeting the mitigation of this problem. The questionnaire also revealed memories of damaging events, recognition of the causes of CE and sea encroachment, identification of risk perception, and understanding of the feedback about the strategies developed for mitigating erosion. The results showed that the perception of CE was derived from constructed experience and social memory. For the participants, the erosion «issue» is a serious daily problem. They identified risks and mentioned natural causes that are magnified by both climate change and human causes. Disengagement of the state through inefficient decision-making, inadequate construction and maintenance of defence structures, and through their laxness regarding building new constructions were all mentioned as significant examples of human causes. Participants highlighted the authorities’ lack of sensitivity towards traditional knowledge and their lack of will to welcome/integrate the contribution participants’ experience could make. The main contribution of this work resides in the empirically based development of a model for the social perception of CE, by positioning vulnerability in the context of CE. The perceived vulnerability/risk was deemed to result not only from CE, but also from a variable and dynamic context-specific framework, and from internal/external factors that were identified.
Peerreviewed: yes
Access type: Open Access
Appears in Collections:BRU-CRI - Comunicações a conferências internacionais

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