Social Impact Assessment: An Introduction

Social Impact Assessment: An Introduction

Social Impact Assessment: An Introduction

Social Impact Assessment: An Introduction


This accessible introduction to social impact assessment examines the practical and theoretical approaches, methods, and techniques used to uncover the social effects of change. Presenting a clear synthesis of literature scattered across a range of sources, the book considers how SIA may be successfully integrated with other fields of impact assessment, as well as examining its relationship with planning and policy making. Each chapter contains an extensive reference list to promote the reader's further inquiry, and a glossary of terminology can be found at the end of the book. This comprehensive new title is invaluable for those approaching the subject for the first time.


During the last 30 years or so, planners and decision-makers have increasingly accepted that 'social' impacts need to be considered along with environmental and economic: because they are often important, or closely interrelated with them; as a response to the growth in the West of a popular desire for 'social responsibility'; and for improved environmental management and sustainable development, which demand a precautionary approach.

Social impact assessment (SIA) runs parallel with, overlaps, or is used by: environmental impact assessment (EIA); risk and hazard assessment; technology assessment; project, programme and policy monitoring and evaluation ; and a number of other planning and management fields. Increasingly, governments, funding agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seek to improve development efforts by establishing likely effects in advance, so that they can be avoided, or mitigation and contingency measures put in place. Social and socio-economic problems cause misery, waste money and hinder efforts to establish stable governance and sustainable development. In an increasingly crowded world, SIA can help to avoid such problems. These efforts are being applied to a huge range of situations, so the public, planners, administrators, lawyers, engineers, technicians, conservationists and many others — as well as social scientists — are all likely to get involved in SIA, a field that is still evolving.

I undertook to write this book, aware of the complexity of the subject, and conscious that I am not a 'mainstream' social studies specialist. However, objective synthesis and review may usefully be conducted by those who dispassionately distance themselves from a subject. Also, SIA is an evaluative process that uses descriptive and analytical tools which are often derived from the natural sciences, economics and planning. Furthermore, SIA should integrate closely with EIA, planning, management, economics and other non-social studies disciplines.

I make no attempt to offer a training volume, nor an in-depth handbook; my aim is to offer a clear and comprehensive introduction.

C.J. Barrow
University of Wales Swansea . . .

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