- Private trouble, policy issue: people's noise annoyance and policy discours
- Critical Policy Analysis
- Volume | Issue number
- 2 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
It is well know that social problems are defined as such in policy processes. Simultaneously, there is ample evidence for the construction of problem perception at an individual level. In this article, I shall report on a study on the relation between the two: how policy discourses affect problem perception. The research focuses on aircraft noise annoyance.
How do people become annoyed by aircraft sound? Existing research shows that sound levels alone cannot explain annoyance. In this article, I shall present a novel approach to noise annoyance. I shall use Hajer’s argumentative discourse approach to analyze noise policy. This is combined with the concept of ’resonance’ from framing studies and discursive psychology to assess citizens’ everyday perception of aircraft sound. The question is raised as to whether the dominant noise policy discourse resonates in citizens’ perception. If this is the case, aircraft sound would be perceived differently in
different policy settings. Therefore I conducted qualitative research in two cases: Amsterdam Schiphol (The Netherlands) and Zurich Kloten (Switzerland). In both cases I collected policy documents, interviewed policy makers and experts, and attended protests. I analyzed interviews (89), complaints (250), letters (148) and public enquiry statements (29). The analysis suggests that the dominant policy discourse does indeed
resonate in peoples’ perception. Therefore, citizens perceive aircraft sound as a different
problem in the Netherlands as compared to Switzerland. Noise complaints and protest
closely follow the openings presented in policy processes. Either people adopt the policy discourse (a relation I term ‘consonance’) or they partly adopt it and partly go against is (a relation I term ‘dissonance’).
I can show that the dominant noise policy discourse triggers compliance and certain forms of opposition or conflict. Only rarely did I find people not relating to the dominant policy discourse (a relation I term ‘autonomy’). Dominant policy discourses shape our experience. This relation - called ‘resonance’ here - merits further investigation. The fact that the power of a policy discourse can be demonstrated for an apparently nonsocial trigger - sound - suggests that policy discourses have a significant impact on citizens when it comes to issues that are social in nature.
If you believe that digital publication of certain material infringes any of your rights or (privacy) interests, please let the Library know, stating your reasons. In case of a legitimate complaint, the Library will make the material inaccessible and/or remove it from the website. Please Ask the Library, or send a letter to: Library of the University of Amsterdam, Secretariat, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You will be contacted as soon as possible.