The Social Impacts of Dams: A New Framework for Scholarly Analysis

Kirchherr, J. and Charles, K. (2016). The Social Impacts of Dams: A New Framework for Scholarly Analysis. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 60: 99-114

49 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2017 Last revised: 28 Apr 2017

See all articles by Julian Kirchherr

Julian Kirchherr

Utrecht University - Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development

Katrina Charles

University of Oxford - School of Geography and Environment

Date Written: April 8, 2016

Abstract

No commonly used framework exists in the scholarly study of the social impacts of dams. This hinders comparisons of analyses and thus the accumulation of knowledge. The aim of this paper is to unify scholarly understanding of dams' social impacts via the analysis and aggregation of the various frameworks currently used in the scholarly literature. For this purpose, we have systematically analyzed and aggregated 27 frameworks employed by academics analyzing dams' social impacts (found in a set of 217 articles). A key finding of the analysis is that currently used frameworks are often not specific to dams and thus omit key impacts associated with them. The result of our analysis and aggregation is a new framework for scholarly analysis (which we call 'matrix framework') specifically on dams' social impacts, with space, time and value as its key dimensions as well as infrastructure, community and livelihood as its key components. Building on the scholarly understanding of this topic enables us to conceptualize the inherently complex and multidimensional issues of dams' social impacts in a holistic manner. If commonly employed in academia (and possibly in practice), this framework would enable more transparent assessment and comparison of projects.

Keywords: Large dams; Hydropower; Social impact; Resettlement; Social impact assessment; Framework

Suggested Citation

Kirchherr, Julian and Charles, Katrina, The Social Impacts of Dams: A New Framework for Scholarly Analysis (April 8, 2016). Kirchherr, J. and Charles, K. (2016). The Social Impacts of Dams: A New Framework for Scholarly Analysis. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 60: 99-114. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2956636

Julian Kirchherr (Contact Author)

Utrecht University - Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development ( email )

Heidelberglann 2
3508 TC Utrecht
Netherlands

Katrina Charles

University of Oxford - School of Geography and Environment ( email )

Oxford University Centre for the Environment
South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3QY
United Kingdom

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