Many scholars note the increasing desire of the public to be involved in the policy process. Others observe, however, that public participation in governance is declining. One possible explanation for this is that people do not know the technical and scientific language that is frequently used in these decision processes. Citizens simply lack the information to participate in a meaningful way. This is what is known as the “technical information quandary” (i.e., how citizen desires for increased participation can be balanced against the increasingly technical nature of public policy). Research on public participation suggests membership in voluntary associations or organizations is positively associated with higher levels of technical policy knowledge. Recreation management on the Colorado Plateau provides an excellent opportunity to examine the relationship between membership in voluntary organizations and the level of policy knowledge. In 1998, we surveyed the public living on the Colorado Plateau to ascertain their level of knowledge of technical terms and their level of participation in voluntary organizations. We found that a variety of factors were related to people's membership in these organizations. In particular, our findings indicate that those with higher levels of knowledge were significantly more likely to be members of voluntary organizations and that this knowledge was most likely to come from the organizations. These findings have important implications for environmental managers, as well as for the voluntary organizations themselves.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Membership in voluntary organizations on the Colorado Plateau: A reexamination of the technical information quandary|
|Series title||Environmental Practice|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Contributing office(s)||Fort Collins Science Center|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|