society.jpg

Aya Kachi Ph.D.

One step at a time toward a less divided society – In a social science way

Breaking the Binary.

There are many important public policy agendas around us. They emerge as potential solutions to our technological and economic challenges, but many of them become politicized quickly. When severely politicized, even a well-intended policy proposal can become a source of societal conflicts and cleavages in democratic politics. Energy and climate have turned into such policy domains. Firms and interest groups strategically allocate their resources to achieve their policy goals. Voters tend to engage in conversations with others who hold the same opinion. All these perfectly normal activities in a policy process can potentially lead to unintended and irreconcilable societal divides, particularly in a highly politicized environment -- an environment in which expressed preferences and ideas tend to be binary. "Whose idea is the right one? --Mine." Can we manage these essential policy processes better than how we do now?

As an Associate Professor at a research university in Switzerland, I am teaching and researching these issues. On the one hand, I analyze energy stakeholders' resource endowments and practices that determine their policy influence. On the other hand, I examine the determinants of voters' knowledge and opinion around energy and climate policy issues, focusing on the role of policy and technology communication. How can we break the binary in our policy discussions and focus on solutions?