November 30, 2023: IRES Faculty Seminar with David Tindall

Explaining Who is Perceived as Influential in the Canadian Climate Change Policy Network: A Hybrid Network Approach

Time: 12:30pm to 1:20pm

Location: CHBE Room 102; the Chemical and Biological Engineering Building; 2360 East Mall

No food or drinks allowed in the Theatre. 

View Video Here

Talk summary:

Anthropogenic climate change is arguably the biggest existential threat to humankind, as well as many other species. While earth systems are complex, the natural science aspects of the problem are quite well understood. It is the social, political, economic, and cultural barriers to addressing climate change that are challenging to address. This study examines the perceived influence of different actors in Canada’s climate change policy network just prior to the signing of the Paris Agreement. In this research, we consider the problem of addressing climate change from a policy network perspective. We collect network data on both organizational and individual policy actors. We develop a hybrid approach (synthesizing whole network and ego network approaches) in our analysis. This analysis utilizes data from a representative survey of climate change policy network actors in Canada. Five network relations are examined: communication, sharing scientific information, collaboration, influence in domestic climate change politics, and influence on the respondent’s organization’s policy position. A main finding is that there is a positive association between an actor being central in the communication network and their being perceived as more influential in domestic climate change politics. Also, an actor’s perceived influence on the respondent’s organization’s stance was correlated both with the centrality of actors in the communication network, and in the collaboration network. However, when we examine these findings in more depth, we see that being an actor who provided expert scientific information was not correlated with being influential in either domestic climate change politics, or in influencing the respondent’s organization’s policy position. A related finding -which is also surprising – is that actors who were associated with research organizations were seen as being less influential in both domestic climate change politics, and in influencing the respondent’s organization’s policy position. These findings give us a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between network centrality and perceived climate policy influence, thereby making an important contribution to understanding the social dynamics of climate change policy networks.

Dr. David Tindall, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia


David Tindall is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, at the University of British Columbia. His expertise is in social networks, social movements, environmental sociology, and climate change. A primary focus of Dr. Tindall’s research has been on contention over environmental issues. He has developed an ego social network model of micromobilization for collective action related to environmentalism. He has also published extensively on climate change policy and discourse networks. His current research examines the role of social networks in facilitating action to address climate change, and compares and contrasts the roles of virtual and non-virtual social network ties.