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J Environ Manage. 2017 Jun 15;195(Pt 1):56-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.10.060. Epub 2016 Nov 8.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA) from a multidimensional paradigmatic perspective: Challenges and opportunities.

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Department of Sociology I, University of Alicante, Edif. Ciencias Sociales, San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, 03690 Spain. Electronic address:
Department of Sociology, Social Work and Public Health, University of Huelva, Faculty of Social Work (El Carmen), Av. Tres de Marzo, s/n, 20171 Spain. Electronic address:


The literature specialized in Social Impact Assessment (SIA) concurs that there is still much work to do in the discussion and thorough grounding of its theories and conceptual bases. The authors of this paper consider that the understanding of SIA as a paradigm may prove useful as a foundation on which more robust and better grounded SIA knowledge production may be built. Further, we suggest that the application of the concept of the paradigm in the terms expressed here may offer a comprehensive guide to practice in SIA studies. The paradigmatic approach to SIA is based on six basic, consecutive questions, related to each other and independent at the same time: questions in the axiological, ontological, epistemological, methodological and theoretical fields, in addition to one on governance in SIA (and in the specific project analysed). We explain how the two currently predominant SIA paradigms (which we have named technocratic and constructivist, following the commonly accepted terms) answer these questions. Finally, the variability of the different answer options may involve intermediate positions between the two paradigms which may also involve comprehensive ways of defining and grounding practice.


Constructivism; Governance; Pos-normal science; Technocratic; Theory

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