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Session Overview
RN12_01b_P: Social Theory and the Environment II
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Aleksandra Wagner, Jagiellonian University
Location: PC.2.13
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 2.

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Untangling indignant radical imaginaries: commons, ecologism and autonomy

Viviana Asara

Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

This paper analyses the social natures engendered by the Indignados movement. Taking the case study of Barcelona, it follows the movement’s evolution after the square occupation and untangles three interlinked radical imaginaries prefigured and implemented by the movement in three different territorial projects. Countering growing enclosure and commodification of urban space, and displaying an integration of production, reproduction, consumption and governance, these projects are animated by the commons imaginary. By integrating these different functions, these projects also reclaim control over the conditions of reproduction, and attempt to self-determine their needs by disentangling life from commodity flows, hence expressing the autonomy imaginary. Autonomy nevertheless does not mean avoiding engagement with the state, as these projects connect the struggle over the common with the one over the public, redefining the public as “public from the common”, based on the interrelation between public, cooperative and communitarian spheres. Autonomy has also a territorial groundedness and relocalization dimension, which connects to the third radical imaginary, ecologism. Restoring economic self-reliance and re-embedding the economy within local communities and environments, being informed and motivated by ecological disfunction and waste, and promoting a different type of urbanism, they express an ecological conception of territory. Creating meaningful, collective work and self-employment, getting involved in collaborative and convivial consumption, and transforming everyday life through the “principle of responsibility”, these projects link self-determination of needs with sufficiency principles. While the indignados movement is not strictly an environmental movement, this paper hence argues that (and scrutinizes why) the ecologism/sufficiency imaginary, connected to political consumerism, is at the core of the Indignados’ transformational vision and practices.

Unmaking Europe? Euroscepticism and environmental policies

Jean-Paul Bozonnet

Sciences Po - Grenoble Université, France

Euroscepticism is on the rise in most countries in Europe, according to the latest Eurobarometer surveys, and this anti-European sentiment is challenging environmental policies of the EU.

First, Euroscepticism is closely linked to the temptation of withdrawal and nationalism, which are part of a system of traditional values (Schwartz 1994). On the contrary, the pro-European sentiment was linked to openness to other cultures and could broaden personal identity to vast territories and universal values. It was the basis of post-modern civic culture (Almond et Verba 1989), which required a high level of cognitive mobilization (Inglehart 1970).

Second, environmentalism is also linked to a high level of education, and open-mindedness on distant worlds. Indeed, it involves "thinking globally", and, since pollution knows no borders, it implies also accepting environmental policy decisions taken at the highest territorial levels, specifically European level.

Thus, our first objective will be to test the following hypothesis: Would Europeans opposed to EU integration not also be the ones most reluctant to EU environmental policies, or even to environmental policies in general? In other words, would euroscepticism go hand in hand with the rejection of environmental policies?

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that it is precisely because the European opinion was very favorable, that the DG of Environment (DGXI) has implemented more easily environmental policies, sometimes despite the reluctance of the European Council. Our second objective will examine the consequences of the Euroscepticism expansion: is it really endangering European environmental policies?

For this work, we will rely on the recent Eurobarometers, from 2014 to 2016.

Future never happens- are the Luhmanian concepts of futurization and defuturization useful for discursive approach to energy policy analysis?

Aleksandra Wagner

Jagiellonian University, Poland

Key words: Futurization, defuturization, energy policy, discursive approach

The aim of the paper is to propose an operationalization of concepts of futurization and defuturization as the mechanisms of coping with the future proposed by Niklas Luhmann in 1976. We are going to discuss their usefulness to discursive analysis of energy policy.

Investments (or lack of) in the energy sector are usually very expensive, have long-term effects and although often they are not irreversible, process of withdrawing from them is complicated and stretched for years. Planning and modelling of future scenarios seems indispensable element of energy policies and coping with uncertainty and unpredictable it seems their primary challenge. Discursive constructions of the visions of the future are treated in proposed analyses as a part of modernisation discourse (and particularly transition discourse). It is assumed they contain hidden agenda underlying the actions taken in the energy sector (both oriented on creating the change or secure the current order).

Mechanisms of futurization and defuturization described by Luhmann are recommendations theoretical reflection on how society copes with the future in anticipation. They refer to how the future is "opened" by allowing the possibility of different scenarios (futurization) or “closed”- by reducing them to one of the most likely or desired scenario (defuturization). Defining the future can serve the interests of legitimacy or revolution, protecting the status quo or change the reality. It is associated with diagnosis capabilities (including resources such as knowledge, technological development) and based on the value systems.

The (not) making of secondary resource regions

Alena Bleicher, Martin David, Magdalena Wallkamm

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Reserch, Germany

For some years resources policies in European countries have seen a renaissance. Such policies aim to supply European economies with raw materials, notably metals and scarce earth metals. In this context the exploitation of secondary deposits such as mining heaps and tailings in European regions is considered. Such an approach might be seen as a chance to create new “resource regions” that could provide a new subjectivity.

This contribution will follow the question of how “resource regions” are made? The question will be answered based on the analysis of two German regions. Both regions have similar characteristics – tradition in mining, structural problems of local economy; also, both have to deal with demographic changes. Nevertheless, regional actors have taken up the idea of being a resource region very differently. In the one case locally based scientists agitate for exploiting raw materials from mining heaps. In the other, regional actors don’t see the potential of resource exploitation although research projects have proved the existence of raw materials.

Within this presentation mechanisms will be discussed that bring together and integrate material elements (e.g. heaps and tailings), regional structures, as well as regional and national imaginaries on future development in ways that create regional resource potentials (or not). The analysis mainly draws on concepts of regional imaginaries and frames.

Our analysis shows that central factors in this process are the emergence of regional frames that contradict dominant frames of (national) resource policy and the way how scientific research is linked to the region.

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