Scaling up: Assessing social impacts at the macro-scale

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Social impacts occur at various scales, from the micro-scale of the individual to the macro-scale of the community. Identifying the macro-scale social changes that results from an impacting event is a common goal of social impact assessment (SIA), but is challenging as multiple factors simultaneously influence social trends at any given time, and there are usually only a small number of cases available for examination. While some methods have been proposed for establishing the contribution of an impacting event to macro-scale social change, they remain relatively untested. This paper critically reviews methods recommended to assess macro-scale social impacts, and proposes and demonstrates a new approach. The 'scaling up' method involves developing a chain of logic linking change at the individual/site scale to the community scale. It enables a more problematised assessment of the likely contribution of an impacting event to macro-scale social change than previous approaches. The use of this approach in a recent study of change in dairy farming in south east Australia is described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-391
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


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