Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse


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China as a Locality: A Place of Knowledge Production

Governance networks typically function in the absence of clearly defined constitutional rules. Network actors, therefore, have to develop a common understanding of the problem as well as build a basis for mutual trust. We suggest that discourse-analytical and dramaturgical concepts can be helpful instruments to analyse these dynamics of trust building in governance networks.

Rendering climate change governable: From biopower to advanced liberal government? Angela Oels 4 Estimated H-index: 4.

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Abstract This article generates a theoretical framework for analysing the politics of climate change on the basis of Michel Foucault's concept of governmentality. Foucault does not limit the exercise of power to sovereignty, but introduces discipline, biopower, liberal and advanced liberal government as alternative configurations of state and power.

Frank Fischer and Maarten Hajer

The article argues that the ways in which climate change is rendered a governable entity are best understood before the background of a shift from b This article aims to shed light on the performative dimension of participation in policy making. It is argued that we can enhance our understanding of the dynamics of policy deliberation examining the setting in which the deliberation takes place as well as the particular staging of that setting.

Portraying political processes as sequences of staged performances of conflict and conflict resolution, this article analyzes how the design of the setting affects what is said, what can be said, and wh Published on Jan 1, Bruno Latour 69 Estimated H-index: Making European space : mobility, power and territorial identity. Ole B. Jensen 21 Estimated H-index: Introduction 2. Languages of European Space 5. Creating New Knowledges of Europe 8.

Embodying the environment in everyday life practices. Published on Feb 1, in The Sociological Review 2. Philip Macnaghten 2 Estimated H-index: 2. Through empirical research on environmental concerns and everyday practices, this paper sketches a framework through which the values associated with contemporary environmentalism might be developed in a more reflexive relationship to wider transformations in society.

In particular, the research critically evaluates the stan Published on Jan 1, in Kind En Adolescent. Hajer 1 Estimated H-index: 1. PART I. Policy without polity? Policy analysis and the institutional void. Published on Jan 1, in Policy Sciences 2. How should policy analysis respond to the changing context of policy making?

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This article examines three aspects of policy analysis in this changing context: polity, knowledge and intervention. More than before, solutions for pressing problems transgress the sovereignty of spec Cited By Estimated H-index: 7. Abstract The idea that agricultural production and environmental conservation are almost incompatible has divided nature protectionists, advocates for indigenous peoples, and agricultural producers.

The integration of land use and climate change risks in the Programmes of Measures of River Basin Plans — assessing the influence of the Water Framework Directive in Portugal. Abstract Land use or associated practices have impacts on water quality and quantity.

Some of these impacts may be aggravated by water-related climate change risks such as floods and droughts. At the river basin level, measures to foster water-wise land uses such as the prevention of soil pollution, soil imperviousness or floods, among others, may strengthen the articulation between land use impacts and water protection.

How does the circular economy discourse affect policy-making? The case of streamlining waste utilisation in Finnish earthworks. Published on Oct 1, in Resources Conservation and Recycling 7. Abstract Since entering the waste policy debate in the s, the sustainability discourse has sought to find alternatives to end-of-pipe solutions. The latest development on this path is the emergence of the circular economy, which aims to close the loop of the current linear economy. This case study analyses a substantial Finnish waste policy reform that has been underway since the late s.

The objective of the reform has been to create a decree that streamlines waste utilisation in earthwo Published on May 24, in Climate Policy 4. Grace Wong 9 Estimated H-index: 9. This is extremely relevant to the discourse on eco-civilization China, as well as to the discourse on global prosperity [ 53 ]. The relevance of eco-civilization as a policy concept is linked to the growing awareness of the fact that improvements in environmental protection are essential to economic development. Examples of failed eco-cities, such as Dongtan outside Shanghai [ 10 ], and tragic disasters like the explosions at the hazardous-chemical storage facility on 12 August in the Dongjiang Free-Trade-Zone in the Tianjin Binhai new area [ 16 , 24 ], where the company Ruihuan International Logistics was operating, demonstrate that neglecting this human dimension has a very high cost attached to it.

This requires us to think seriously about the subjective realities of the populations that constitute urban systems, questioning the logic of economic growth at all costs, and going beyond the one-dimensional economic ideology of modernisation development [ 23 ]. It is important both to understand that the concept of eco-civilization did not originate in the political arena, but in the intellectual domain, and also to evaluate what is the relationship between the two fields.

At the Government level, the concept of eco-civilization became prominent in , especially following the Report to the 17th National Party Congress NPC, 15—21 October , which was delivered by former President Hu Jintao, but prepared by Premier Wen Jiabao [ 19 ]. It is not a term the Party has coined just to fill a theoretical vacancy in its socialism with Chinese characteristics, but rather a future-oriented guiding principle based on the perception of the extremely high price we have paid for our economic miracle. This concept reflects an important change in the Party's understanding of development.

Rather than emphasizing economic construction as the core of development as it did in the past, the Party authorities have come to realize that development, if sustainable, must entail a list of elements including the right relationship between man and nature [ 11 ]. It is important to remember that the discussion on eco-civilization had already started in Chinese academic literature twenty-five years earlier, thanks to the contribution of the agricultural economist Ye Qianji — Ye was the first to use this concept and to emphasise its importance for the practice of sustainable agriculture in China.

His theory about ecologically sustainable agriculture and its merits was later expanded into a book, which emphasized the contribution of eco-agriculture to the future sustainable development of the country [ 68 ]. It is interesting to note the parallelism with the origin of the term Anthropocene, which had already appeared in —61 in the Reports of the USSR Academy of Sciences [ 9 ] to refer to the late Quaternary era, while in the West, until the intervention of Crutzen and Stoermer in , this was simply labelled as the Holocene. In June i. This indicates a radically different ethical foundation of eco-civilization when compared with industrial civilization: respect for nature to realize ecological justice as opposed to utilitarian, profit-driven and technology-innovation oriented functionalism.

The emphasis on protecting nature could be linked to the idea of protecting both ecological and social justice. Ye also had some significant insights into global environmental issues, useful for global governance and social prosperity. Ye recognises that human activities are limited, and due to the serious extent of the damage caused to the natural and ecological system, governments need to find adequate tools of governance to guarantee a form of human development based on a healthy and dignified way of living [ 69 ].

After Crutzen and Stoermer proposed the theory of the Anthropocene in , this was received with interest in the Chinese academic circles.

Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse

The equivalent term coined in Chinese was renleiji. Particularly significant for Chinese intellectuals at the dawn of the new century was the idea that the beginning of this new geological era coincided with the new period of civilizational development which had started with the Industrial Revolution, when human activity progressively became the dominant force in influencing and changing the Earth system.

Engaging with this debate, Ye summarized the four major issues at stake as follows:. First: global warming, the shortage of water and land resources, increasing dust storms, desert expansion, rising sea levels, frequent floods and other ecological disasters, had all resulted in unprecedented damage to the environment, as well as the loss of human life and assets. Third: species are dying, and their diversity has been severely damaged. Ye argued in favour of the second. Ye strongly believed that a correct understanding of the relationship between human beings and nature could have led to more balanced and sustainable socio-economic development: therefore, he advocated the reconstruction of the social blueprint based on a comprehensively new culture, which emphasized the need to treat nature like ourselves, respecting the laws of nature, and aiming at harmony with nature.

He vehemently insisted that even if one can argue that man is the subject of nature, this does not mean that he is master of nature; if nature is the object for mankind, this does not mean that nature can be subjugated to the indiscriminate power of mankind. Considering this long process, he defined the new law of ecological economy as follows: the extinction of ancient life, the law of rejuvenation, the emergence of biological advantages based on the law of domination and decline, the law of formation of life symbiosis; the four aspects of the law of chain evolution based on the struggle for survival Ye From a historical perspective, Ye linked the past-present and future, emphasizing that we should learn from the path of ancient history, deriving inspiration, and reversing the logic of the Anthropocene in order to deal more wisely with the various crises in the new era, looking for strategic measures to deal with them and address them, since we are already witnessing how the continuous human violation of nature has triggered the perverse destruction cycle of ecological catastrophe, which has led to the retaliation of the natural laws against mankind.

The idea of eco-civilization construction was enshrined in the Constitution, with a typical example of the future perfect tense: projecting the construction of eco-civilization in a possible perfectible future.

Clare Saunders: Environmental politics

To improve the ecological environment is to develop productive forces. The similarity of the political language is remarkable. Here, I am using the English translation of the text. It is significant that Hu Jintao indicates shengtai wenming as an indispensable element for the advancement of economic, political, and cultural and social progress, framing it as a sort of holistic and intertwined mechanistic model. When the official political discourse took over the idea of shengtai wenming from the academic sphere, the idea of ecological civilization became part of a teleological discourse, characterised by a normative, prescriptive and also deterministic connotation of progress, projected into the future perfect.

In the official political documents, the concept is formulated in such a way, which demonstrates how it is built on the past but its anticipated achievement is projected into the future. Italics added. This reveals, once again, an attempt to connect eco-civilization with the conservation of resources, but the aim is also to create a better living environment for the people. In addition to information presented in the Report, here one can also detect the seeds of a political discourse, one that raises questions about the overall mode of production, which, after five years, had proven to be even more unbalanced and unsustainable, demonstrating a more mature concept of sustainable development, on paper at least, which is connected with social justice [ 28 ]:xiv.

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The complexities of the 18th Party Congress set the tone for positioning the discourse on eco-civilization, understanding not only its rationale and its aims but also its main challenges. However, as previously mentioned, the shift in terminology does not necessarily coincide with substantial achievements on the environmental protection front [ 64 ]— Beautiful China is listed in an article published on 14th November by the Renmin Ribao as one of the 25 most used key phrases of Xi Jinping.

But this could also be interpreted as a skilful and tactical rhetoric device, which allows the Party to present the public with a series of populist welfare goals, while in reality enabling the Party to discursively continue to manoeuvre public support. It will remain committed to the basic state policy of conserving resources and protecting the environment. As Chinese political rhetoric embodies the tropes that seem to encourage the population to transform their lifestyles and adopt greener and more civilised practices, the forward- and progressive-looking mantras on the environment contribute to creating a new discursive platform by which to assess performances at the local level while asserting the legitimacy of the state.

The somewhat vague notion of green growth, implicit in the idea of eco-civilization, assumes its full relevance in the link between state building and nature-people-making so that the environmental realities are truly real only in relation to the state objectives and its master narrative of a magnificent and progressive future. In the last few years, the intellectual debate on eco-civilization has re-ignited.

He argues that eco-civilization affects the whole life of mankind on this planet since the foundation principles of eco-civilization are respect for nature and social justice [ 48 ]. For Pan, these are the fundamental social values which should inform political economy in such a way that the production model would be characterised by low input, circularity and efficiency, while the consumption mechanisms would follow green, resource-saving and healthy lifestyles.

Thus, eco-civilization construction could help to ease the increasingly intense conflicts between human beings and the environment, since it promotes the prioritization of a social form of civilization, under which people, society and nature are inclusive, harmonious, and sustainable [ 45 ]. Pan is deeply interested in connecting the economic rationale with a call for institutional change, which involves a call for critical ways of rethinking the governance structure in relation to the choice of development pathways. Pan relates his reasoning on the pressing nature of the environmental challenges, such as ecological degradation, climate extremes, energy security and resource capacity, to the potential for setting and implementing climate SDGs.

Of all the challenges to sustainable development, Pan is particularly interested in the connection existing between the social e. Ultimately, Pan proposes a more holistic approach, which starts with an acknowledgement of the environment as a whole being an economic, biological and human resource. Pan argues that rethinking the economics and politics of development necessarily requires nothing less than a paradigm shift. Therefore, he emphasizes the need to move away from the logic of the industrial civilization, which is based on utilitarian ethical principles, aims at the maximization of profit, and ultimately places its priority on the accumulation of capital for the few, while directing much less care, or no care at all, towards people and nature.

The idea of eco-civilization is also based on a reconsideration of the unsustainable development model that has arisen out of industrial civilization, whose teleology was based on the assumption that industrialization was the key marker of progress, and therefore civilization. Pan Jiahua raises the rhetorical question of whether there is room for China to pursue industrial civilization any further [ 48 ] His answer, based on his in-depth study of the rate and scale of urbanisation in relation to industrialization in the automobile sector, is negative.

One of the major problems with the rapid growth of the Chinese economy is the consumption of primary energy resources, which are required to support industrialization. Pan concludes that the paradigm shift from industrial civilization to eco-civilization is even more urgent for China than the rest of the world, but he also acknowledges that it is indeed a global challenge since it requires drastic changes to global institutions: under the pressing global trend of urbanisation, industrialization has very limited space, social inequality is growing e. This leads, inevitably, to ecological degradation, environmental pollution water, air, municipal solid waste, etc.

The growing awareness requires governments to work together in order to accelerate the shift to eco-civilization. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us. As Ye Qianji originally indicated, and Pan Jiahua later elaborated, the real challenge for China is how to de-couple economic growth from environmental degradation. They both offered significant insights, especially in terms of the necessity: 1.

Therefore, the concept of eco-civilization can be used as a heuristic device, one which challenges the dominant logic of economic growth at all costs, and can help, at least partially, in a rethinking of the issues linked to growth and human development. The future perfect tense predominant in the political discourse on eco-civilization could anesthetize listeners, potentially convincing them that the eco-biopolitical discourse will automatically find its own solution in reality, thanks to the driving force of repetition and slogan-like techniques.

On the contrary, the convergence of the academic discussion on eco-civilization with the politics-policy nexus the connection of political goals with policy tools could provide an opportunity to question if not openly disrupt the unsustainable logic that rapid industrialization, extensive land development and full-scale urbanisation leads to long-lasting progress. According to Jacques, the priority of the State is to maintain the alleged unity, cohesion and integrity of the Chinese civilization that the State embodies.

Unsurprisingly, this syllogism has received a very positive reception in China. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the critique of the Anthropocene, either as a tool of universal history, which reduces humanity to a collective subject blindly seeking material progress, or as an imprecise meta-history which upholds the construction of teleological grand narratives with preordained aims. For more on this, cp. The Commission was created by the United Nations in in light of the progressive deterioration of the human environment and natural resources.

This article was completed in July It was only during the final revision stage in Sept. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Open Access. First Online: 22 February Ye Qianji [ 68 ]. With regard to eco-civilization, the mouthpiece of the CCP, The China Daily , expands on it by arguing that: It is not a term the Party has coined just to fill a theoretical vacancy in its socialism with Chinese characteristics, but rather a future-oriented guiding principle based on the perception of the extremely high price we have paid for our economic miracle.

In reality, the debate on eco-civilization started in the s in the academic domain and was later appropriated by the political discourse. To understand the changing relationship between economic growth and human development in China, as well as its potential impact on global governance and eco-socially sustainable prosperity, it was, therefore, necessary to analyse both the political discourse and the intellectual debate, evaluating what are the possible elements of convergence or divergence.

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Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse
Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse
Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse
Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse
Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse

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