Jennifer Elizabeth Dodge

State University of New York, Albany
Rockefeller College

135 Western Avenue
Milne Hall 308
Albany, NY
12210 |  Visit Personal Website

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Jennifer Dodge is Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at Rockefeller College, University at Albany – SUNY, and Co-Editor of Critical Policy Studies. Her research focuses on the interpretation of policy conflict, and the role of civil society organizations in supporting citizen participation in policy discourse, mostly in the environmental field. She is interested in explaining how policy conflict affects decision making and policy formulation, and how conflict can be used productively to create more just and sustainable policy.

Dodge, J., & Lee, J.* (2017). Framing dynamics and policy gridlock: the curious case of hydraulic fracturing in New York. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 19(1), 14-34.
Abstract: ‘Fracking’ was on New York's agenda since 2008, yet no decision was made about it until late 2014. The gridlock is an intriguing puzzle given that the Marcellus shale is considered a ‘world class’ energy supply, and development has been aggressive in other US states. While policy scholars typically conceptualize gridlock as policy stability, this paper examines it as a dynamic process by which competing discourse coalitions engage in interactive framing processes that (re)structure the discussion. This suggests that the interaction between contending coalitions influences gridlock. Yet, we lack knowledge about interactive framing between competing coalitions during policy controversies. Our main finding is that a central mechanism of gridlock is the production of conflict through interactive framing dynamics that deny a shared discursive space capable of ushering in a consensus, or reasoned agreement. In New York, this contest evolved from a policy consensus about the economic benefits of fracking to policy negotiation that incorporated environmental threats, and to prolonged policy controversy in which competing discourse coalitions contested notions of fracking in relation to energy production, environmental protection, public health, economic development, and governance. While a ban has been instituted, the failure to bridge discourse coalitions suggests that controversy will persist unless meaning disputes are resolved.
Metze, T. & Dodge, J. (2016). Dynamic discourse coalitions on hydro-fracking in Europe and the United States. Environmental Communication, 10(3), 365-379.
Abstract: Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is a controversial issue in most countries. In these controversies, actors use discursive boundary work to convince various audiences of their position. Discursive boundary work is a communicative strategy that involves the framing of facts in contrast to other kinds of arguments. In this article we develop the Dynamic Discourse Coalition (DDC) approach to study how discourse coalitions deploy discursive boundary work to confirm, integrate, polarize or disintegrate their own and opposing discourse coalitions. The DDC approach enables a deeper understanding of the dynamics of controversies about hydraulic fracturing and similar contested technologies by illuminating the influence of communicative processes on policy formation. Based on an analysis of policy documents, academic reports, newspapers, interviews and websites we compare the dynamics of contesting discourse coalitions in the Netherlands and New York. This analysis explains why policy formed in different ways in the cases, despite the apparent similarity of the discourse coalitions that emerged in the respective controversies.
Lejano, R. & Dodge, J. (2017) Narrative properties of ideology: The adversarial turn and climate skepticism in the U.S. Policy Sciences. DOI: 10.1007/s11077-016-9274-9 (online first)
Abstract: A central concern in policy studies is understanding how multiple, contending groups in society interact, deliberate, and forge agreements over policy issues. Often, public discourse turns from engagement into impasse, as in the fractured politics of climate policy in the USA. Existing theories are unclear about how such an “adversarial turn” develops. We theorize that an important aspect of the adversarial turn is the evolution of a group’s narrative into what can be understood as an ideology, the formation of which is observable through certain textual-linguistic properties. Analysis “of” these narrative properties elucidates the role of narrative in fostering (1) coalescence around a group ideology, and (2) group isolation and isolation of ideological coalitions from others’ influence. By examining a climate skeptical narrative, we demonstrate how to analyze ideological properties of narrative, and illustrate the role of ideological narratives in galvanizing and, subsequently, isolating groups in society. We end the piece with a reflection on further issues suggested by the narrative analysis, such as the possibility that climate skepticism is founded upon a more “genetic” meta-narrative that has roots in social issues far removed from climate, which means efforts at better communicating climate change science may not suffice to support action on climate change.
DOI: 10.1007/s11077-016-9274-9
Dodge, J. (2017). Crowded Advocacy: framing dynamics in the fracking controversy in New York. Voluntas, 28(3), 888-915.
Abstract: In the hydrofracturing controversy in New York advocates hotly contested notions of the problem, what should be done, by whom, and how. This controversy can be characterized as “crowded advocacy,” involving intense mobilization and counter-mobilization of advocates with competing perspectives. Extant theories about the expansion of advocacy organizations are unclear about how advocates’ interactions shape the policy arena, particularly when there is competition within and across multiple coalitions. This article contributes by asking: How do advocates’ interactive framing dynamics shape public discourse when advocacy is crowded? It assumes that advocacy in general, and framing in particular, evolves as advocates respond to each other. I find that competing “discourse coalitions” collectively influence public discourse by articulating divergent notions of (1) what constitutes credible knowledge, (2) who can speak with authority on the issues, and (3) what institutional arrangements should be activated to manage risks. The consequence is that advocates have to react to others' framing on these issues—to defend their knowledge, their credibility, and specific institutions, rather than arguing their case on the merits. The implication is that advocacy is not only the means of influence (strategy) but also creates the context of advocacy in particular ways in a crowded field.
DOI: 10.1007/s11266-016-9800-6
Dodge, J. & Metze, T. (2017). Hydraulic fracturing as an interpretive problem: lessons on energy controversies in Europe and the US. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning.
Abstract: This special issue addresses hydraulic fracturing for shale gas extraction as an interpretive policy problem. Bringing together empirical cases from the U.S.A., the Netherlands, the U.K., Poland, and Germany, we identify three approaches to the interpretation of hydraulic fracturing in the article: understanding its meaning, contextual explanation of the institutionalization of its meaning, and policy design as intervention to alter its meaning. By exploring differences and similarities across these cases, we identified two central tensions in the meaning of shale gas in all cases: (1) economic opportunity or environmental threat and (2) transition toward a more carbon-free energy future or perpetuation of a fossil fuel system. We found that when actors shift the meaning of hydraulic fracturing to consider it predominantly an issue of threat, this explains the dominance of risk governance as an approach to managing the controversy. Alternately, when the meaning of fracking shifts from consideration as an economic opportunity or a bridge fuel to consideration of it as a barrier to an energy transition, this explains the decision to ban fracking. Therefore, a comparative assessment of the papers demonstrates the ways interpretive dimensions of politics can influence the governance of public policy.
Dodge, J. 2014. "Civil Society Organizations and Deliberative Policy-Making: Interpreting Environmental Controversies in the Deliberative System." Policy Sciences 47:161–185.
Abstract: This paper argues that while research on deliberative democracy is burgeoning, there is relatively little attention paid to the contributions of civil society. Based on an interpretive conceptualization of deliberative democracy, this paper draws attention to the ways in which civil society organizations employ ‘‘storylines’’ about environmental issues and deliberative processes to shape deliberative policy making. It asks, how do civil society organizations promote storylines in the deliberative system to change policy? How do storylines constitute policy and policy-making processes in the deliberative system? I answer these questions through an empirical analysis of two environmental controversies in the USA: environmental justice in New Mexico and coalbed methane development in Wyoming. Findings indicate that civil society organizations used storylines in both cases to shift the dynamics of the deliberative system and to advance their own interpretations of environmental problems and policy-making processes. Specifically, they used storylines (1) to set the agenda on environmental hazards, (2) to construct the form of public deliberation, changing the rules of the game, (3) to construct the content of public deliberation, shaping meanings related to environmental policy, and (4) to couple/align forums, arenas and courts across the system. These findings suggest that promoting storylines through accommodation and selection processes can be an important mechanism for shaping policy meanings and for improving deliberative quality, although these effects are tempered by discursive and material forms of power, and the competition among alternative storylines.
DOI: 10.1007/s11077-014-9200-y
Dodge, J. and Ospina, S. 2015. "Developing Advocates for Change: A Practice Approach to Understanding Associations as 'Schools of Democracy'.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 1-22.
Abstract: This article presents a comparative case study of two nonprofit organizations that do community organizing in the environmental field and asks how do nonprofits school citizens in democracy? Although the literature suggests the importance of social capital, a practice approach surfaces important political dimensions that have not been sufficiently explored. We find that distinct organizational practices create contexts for participants to exercise specific ways of being and doing—called “subject positions”—vis-à-vis the state and their political community. These practices support member participation by serving to construct “citizens”—rather than customers or clients—who develop skills in critical thinking and who exercise agency in the organization and the policy field they seek to influence. These practices represent key mechanisms for schooling citizens in democracy in these nonprofit organizations and link participation in the organization with broader political participation. We discuss implications for theory and practice.
DOI: 10.1177/0899764015584063.
Dodge, J. 2015. "The Deliberative Potential of Civil Society Organizations: Framing Hydraulic Fracturing in New York." Policy Studies 36 (3):249-266.
Abstract: Civil society organizations play myriad roles in democracies. Scholars are beginning to pay more attention to their deliberative potential, rethinking whether or not and how they may broaden and enrich public deliberation. Drawing on a discursive approach to deliberative democracy that focuses on interpretive practices, this article analyzes the deliberative potential of a range of civil society organizations in the controversy over hydraulic fracturing in New York State in the USA. It finds that civil society organizations compete to frame hydraulic fracturing as environmental risk, landowner rights, economic opportunity and/or clean energy. The lack of a shared frame has resulted in political gridlock. On the surface the gridlock appears dysfunctional, but may have enhanced deliberative democracy by highlighting ‘frontiers of disagreement’ in the case. In addition, two distinct rhetorical spaces have begun to emerge with potential to resolve these conflicts but with different effects: one focusing on negotiating regulations and the other on developing a local vision of economic and energy development. The influence of these spaces – and thus civil society actors – has been uneven affecting who becomes part of the official conversation. This analysis contributes to deliberative democracy scholarship by clarifying what I call a discursive function of deliberative democracy, and how it reveals the relationships between conflict and reflexivity in public deliberation.
URL: http://
DOI: 10.1080/01442872.2015.1065967
Dodge, Jennifer, Sonia M. Ospina, and Erica Gabrielle Foldy. 2005. "Integrating Rigor and Relevance in Public Administration Scholarship: The Contribution of Narrative Inquiry." Public Administration Review 65 (3):286-300.
Dodge, Jennifer. 2009. "Environmental Justice and Deliberative Democracy: How Civil Society Organizations Respond to Power in the Deliberative System." Policy & Society: Special Issue Deliberative Governance in the Context of Power 28 (3):225-239.

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy
Environmental Policy SECONDARY
Governance PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy
Social Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY