Various models have been employed to account for the influence of these groups (Arts 1998; Betsill and Correll 2001; Newell 2000). Though malleable and shifting, the distinction between groups that might be considered ‘insiders’ and those that are characterised more by their exclusion from the centres of decision-making as ‘outsiders’ does help to highlight important divisions among those groups engaged in the climate change debate. Groups move between these categories over time depending on which strategies they adopt; and the insider-outsider distinction describes in reality a spectrum of access and influence rather than a hard-and-fast dichotomy. It is, nevertheless, the case that some groups, by virtue of their resources, expertise and connections to key government officials, are in a position to exert a much greater direct influence upon the decision-making process than groups whose campaigning agendas, lack of resources and choice of strategy serve to exclude them from the centres of decision-making power.
Inequalities in status based on gender, race, class, education or income are to ‘bracketed’, i.e. for the purposes of the dialogue they are to be treated as if they did not exist.
These constraints are of course multiplied at the global level. Discussions of inequality of access to public debates often focus rather crudely on geographical representation. The ‘North’ is over-represented, the ‘South’ muted. But many more subtle exclusions also operate. Almost without exception, the ‘voices of global civil society’ belong to an English-speaking, university-educated, computer-literate middle class. Within that class access to information is limited again by the commercial logic of websites and search engines. As Vincent Price points out in Chapter 1, Google channels the bulk of users to a set of sites produced mainly by the big media corporations. James Deane in Chapter 8 provides an extensive review of the tendencies towards the appropriation of communicative power and the consequent contraction of the public sphere. He highlights the use of the ‘war on terror’ to restrict freedom of expression, the concentration of media ownership, dependency on advertising, and a growth in number of outlets that actually stifle genuine diversity of opinion.