Pairing a Q Study with Participatory Decision-making around Farmworker Safety
A Case in Washington's Tree Fruit Industry
Tenets of participatory decision-making speak to the importance of meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders for improving both process and outcomes. But what participation actually looks like can vary substantially, and constructing a group where all actors can truly speak is often elusive. In addressing controversies over pesticide safety in tree fruit orchards in Washington State, we used a Q study to identify divergent viewpoints and convened a group to bring these views together. The resulting stakeholder working group was then challenged to both acknowledge their often-opposing viewpoints and to construct a mutually beneficial idea for improving pesticide safety in the tree fruit industry. This paper explores the dynamics of this stakeholder working group, analyzing not only its successes but also its challenges and difficulties. Rooted in a mainstream agricultural industry in the western United States, this study highlights the ways in which seemingly simple things like who “shows up” and why can shape processes and outcomes.
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