Environmental governance as performance

Authored by: Ingolfur Blühdorn , Michael Deflorian

Routledge Handbook of Global Sustainability Governance

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138048287
eBook ISBN: 9781315170237
Adobe ISBN:


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In advanced industrial societies, the democratic involvement of multiple stakeholders at all stages of the policy-process is constitutive to good environmental governance. Yet, these new participatory forms of policy-making have been found wanting in both ecological and democratic terms. Why then have they become so prominent? This contribution suggests that these new forms of participatory governance have become so important not least because they correspond very closely to the particular preferences, needs, and dilemmas of contemporary consumer societies. If measured by the expectations and demands of the emancipatory eco-movements of past few decades, their performance may, indeed, be found wanting. But if assessed from the perspective of these contemporary needs and dilemmas, they do actually perform exceptionally well. In particular, they provide contemporary consumer societies with a practical policy mechanism that helps them to reconcile the widely perceived seriousness and urgency of socio-environmental problems with their ever more visible inability and unwillingness to deviate from their established societal order, patterns of self-realisation, and logic of development. Analysis through the lens of a multi-layered concept of performance sheds light on this under-investigated dimension and thus contributes to a more nuanced reading of modern environmental governance.

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