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Conceptualizing environmental governance in turbulent times: insights from Brexit and waste in the UK

Cowell, R. ORCID:, Flynn, A. ORCID: and Hacking, N. ORCID: 2020. Conceptualizing environmental governance in turbulent times: insights from Brexit and waste in the UK. Political Geography 81 , 102217. 10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102217

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Institutional turbulence created by the UK's EU exit (Brexit) prompts a wider need to re-think whether our conceptualisations of governance in the environmental sphere sufficiently understand the dynamics of change. In this context, Boltanski and Thévenot's ‘Orders of Worth’ (OoW) framework, has particular merit. This conceptualises governance regimes as composed of compromises between plural and incommensurable orders of the public good, with innate potential for instability; especially - we would add - when the territoriality of governance is in flux. The OoW approach is applied to an analysis of waste governance debates in the UK following the 2016 EU referendum. Documentary and interview data show how present and prospective governance arrangements in the waste and resources sector are subject to rival justifications, with actors advancing different compromises between economic, industrial, civic and environmental orders, but that each is also attached to conceptions of the relevant governance scale (EU, UK, devolved nation). Our study shows the wider potential fragility of environmental reforms, arising from the secondary status of environmental concerns in compromises with dominant market, industrial and civic orders. The ‘orders of worth’ framework requires attention to the scales of political authority being mobilised in disputes, which add their own incommensurability.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0962-6298
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2020
Date of Acceptance: 23 April 2020
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2023 17:44

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