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Strange bedfellows or an aligning of values? Exploration of stakeholder values in an alliance of concerned citizens against coal seam gas mining 2015

Rebecca M. Colvin, G. Bradd Witt, Justine Lacey
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In the inter-stakeholder relations in environmental and natural resource management disputes, farmers and environmentalists have traditionally fallen along opposing lines arguably due to seemingly incompatible values and fundamental differences between the groups. However,the expansion ofthe coal seam gas (CSG) industry has resulted in outrage and opposition from farming groups, environmentalists, and communities, leading to an alliance of these “strange bedfellows”. This study explored the opposition movement to CSG in Australia with the use of techniques from social psychology to investigate whether shared values provided the common ground for the alliance. An online survey of values was conducted (N = 197) with members of the CSG opposition alliance. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis thatthis alliance of stakeholders is comprised oftwo distinct sub-groups; farmers and environmentalists. The personal values of the respondents were highly inter-compatible, and aligned with social altruism. Sub-clusters were identified which corresponded with the extent to which respondents considered the CSG industry to impact on their lives. This research challenges the appropriateness of predetermined stakeholder classifications being applied to environmental and natural resource management issues, and highlights values as a relevant social factor in the cooperation potential of oft-conflicting stakeholder groups.

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