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Public Policy and Administration


Karen Shafer


Microplastics have increased water pollution, particularly in urban areas like Chicago. The purpose of this study was to explore how conflicts of interests and belief systems among different stakeholders can impede efforts for developing or revising plastic pollution mitigating laws. The theoretical foundation was Sabatier's advocacy coalition framework, which addresses public policies from the perspective of individual or organizational convictions. The research question addressed how policy makers can build coalitions among diverse stakeholders to formulate policies aimed at reducing microplastic pollution. A qualitative case study design included a document review and 12 semistructured interviews of participants drawn from 3 major different stakeholder groups. The interview data were transcribed, inductively coded and subjected to thematic analysis. The study showed universal stakeholder interest for the need for increased research on how microplastic pollution affects aquatic and human life. The results pointed to a moderate intensity of conflict among different stakeholders which enhances the likelihood for formulating microplastic pollution control policy. The study findings also show that policy-oriented learning can enhance increased stakeholder cooperation and lead to policy change on efforts to control microplastic pollution in waterways. Implications of the study for positive social change include increasing awareness of the sources and effects of plastic pollution, which may facilitate stakeholder cooperation and engineer the societal pressure required for formulating environmental and ecosystem protection policies. The result may be an improved environment and a reduction on the dangers of the plastic pollutants to aquatic and human lives.

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