Panels details > Panel 25

P25- Evaluating publics, constructing constituencies: Bureaucratic participation (and its discontents) in environmental and energy policymaking

PANEL Organizers :
• Karin Patzke (karinpatzke@gmail.com), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

• James Wilcox (wilcoj3@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

SUMMARY

In energy and environmental policy-making and policy implementation, varied configurations of human-nonhuman publics are constructed and represented through a number of official practices. These include the strategic deployment of expertise, the solicitation of public participation, and the structuring of governance regimes. Conversely, “unofficial” policy engagement practices, such as advocacy, resistance, grassroots organizing, and the tactical deployment of expertise, construct, represent, and mobilize publics, as well, often in relation to dominant discourses and practices. Bureaucratic practices, in particular the production of texts documenting evaluation and accountability, play a central role in the construction of publics and in attempts to circumscribe, prescribe, and stabilize their constituents. As policies are enacted, evaluative texts can mediate or negotiate subjectivities to align or redefine policy implementation. Furthermore, participation in these bureaucratic practices functions to constitute a particular public.
This session revolves around the questions: How are publics understood, defined, and generated through bureaucratic participation in environmental and energy policy-making, as well as through resistance to and critique of such official modes of participation? How do evaluative practices construct and reinforce specific types of publics and specific ideologies?

We invite papers for this session that explore such topics as:
- Evaluative and accounting strategies for assembling and representing human-nonhuman publics in environmental policy
- Mobilizations and struggles surrounding articulations and evaluations of ?the public interest? 
- The materiality and performativity of bureaucratic practices, from policy-making to implementation
- Discourses of evaluation, it's generic forms, and implicated social actions.
- Mundane practices as sites of public formation and evaluative practice
- The interplay of individualist and collectivist logics in environmental policy discourses
- Geographies of environmental policy as they pertain to public participation and enrollment
- Regimes of expertise and legitimatization

KEY WORDS
Biotechnology, Bureaucratic Participation, Bureaucratic Practices, Community Energy, Constructing Constituencies, Discourse, Energy Policy, Environmental Policy, Expertise, International Policy Making, Kenya, Legitimatization,Materiality, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear Power, Participation, Policy Genres, Publics, Représentation, Rural Development, Small Farmers, Socio-Technical Imaginaries, Sustainability, Tax Law, Transitions,

ROOM
Sciences Po Lille  B2.16

SESSION 1 : 8/07/2015 : 13:15-14h45
Chairs : Karin Patzke (patzkk@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States) and James Wilcox (wilcoj3@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Discussant: TBD Name (e-mail), University (Country)

1. Exploring emergent publics in sustainability transitions: the case of community energy and nuclear power in the UK
Hielscher Dr Sabine (s.hielscher@sussex.ac.uk), University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
Phil Johnstone, University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
Rose Cairns, University of Sussex (United Kingdom)

2. The uses of international expertise in the institutionalization of IAEA's nuclear safeguards system
Mangin Mailys (mailysmangin@gmail.com), Universite Lille II (France)

3.Appraising Agriculture: Tax Valuation for Wildlife Management on Private Lands in Central Texas
Karin Patzke (patzkk@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

4. “Small Farmers” in Kenya’ Biotechnology Regime: Representations & Participations.
Laura Rabinow (rabinl2@rpi.edu) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

5. Interventions in Practice: Figuring Publics in Energy Policymaking
James Wilcox (wilcoj3@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

ABSTRACTS

1. Exploring emergent publics in sustainability transitions: the case of community energy and nuclear power in the UK
Hielscher Dr Sabine (s.hielscher@sussex.ac.uk), University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
Phil Johnstone, University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
Rose Cairns, University of Sussex (United Kingdom)

Abstract:
This paper compares the role of ‘material publics’ in the evolution of two differing low carbon energy technology trajectories pursued by the UK Government in the past ten years - nuclear power and community renewable energy initiatives. The UK, at the time of writing, remains ostensibly committed to the simultaneous aims of deploying the most ambitious new nuclear programme in Europe (DECC, 2013) whilst also promoting community-based renewable energy (DECC, 2014). Literature associated with ‘sustainable transitions’ (John- stone and Stirling, 2015) and ‘grassroots innovation’ (Hargreaves et al., 2013) offer important accounts of the governance of these respective technologies, however a focus on the constitution and role of the various publics that have emerged through these two policy formulations remains unexplored.
Following Marres (2007) rather than presupposing a structure of ‘governance’ that ‘chooses’ particular energy technologies, our starting point is an analysis of the materiality of these two technologies and how these material dimensions influence forms of governance and the constitution of publics that engage with energy policy more generally. We explore and contrast how the material differences between community renewables and nuclear power impinge on the formation of publics, as well as discussing the very different institutional contexts in which the co-constitution of differing publics and these two energy trajectories take place. Drawing on interviews conducted with a range of participants from both community renewables and nuclear power as well as analysis of policy documents related to both trajectories, we contrast the dynamics of the formation of publics. This looks at the ‘invited’ and ‘bureaucratic’ spaces established through National Policy Statement (NPS) related to nuclear, and the distributed and networked forums of community energy.
This research compares the policy evolution of nuclear power and community-based renew- able energy, and how differing forms of ‘public engagement’ with energy policy have emerged related to these two technological trajectories. The particular institutional responses that have formed around the respective cases of nuclear power and community-based renewables, and the ways these contexts enable or constrain the visibility of certain issues and the agency of publics that coalesce around these issues, is also discussed. This builds a more nuanced understanding of ‘sustainable transitions’, placing focus on issues of ownership and democratic decision-making within socio-technical change. In relation to UK energy policy, such issues have arguably often been overlooked. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our analysis for building broader understandings of sustainability that go beyond a singular focus on C02 alone, and emphasises the diverse motivations and multiple issues through which publics become involved in energy transitions.

2. The uses of international expertise in the institutionalization of IAEA's nuclear safeguards system
Mangin Mailys (mailysmangin@gmail.com), Universite Lille II (France)

Abstract:
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established in 1957 to develop peaceful uses of atomic energy and verify the implementation of some of the commitments made by signatory states of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Agency does so through a set of technical and legal measures called ”safeguards system” composed of bilateral agreements with States.
This paper focuses on the role of the IAEA in monitoring non-proliferation and strengthening nuclear safeguards, as a case study in the analysis of the effects of the internationalization of public policies on actors’ strategies. Its aim is to study empirically the role of inter- national civil servants in defining and implementing nuclear safeguards. How do they have participated in the transformations of international law and its implantation since the 1990s? What are the tools at their disposal (news media, evaluation, legal or technical legitimacy, etc)? The strengthening of nuclear safeguards has been a long and plural process whose complexity needs to be explained beyond an approach strictly defined in terms of Member States willingness. Of what is made the recent legitimacy of the IAEA to intervene in international scene? Against the tide of a functional representation of the implementation of IAEA safeguards, this research aims to better explain the renewed investment of national and international actors in international legal and technical expertise and the transformation of these uses since the 1990s. In the policy-making process, political targets of legal framing are not always solely those to whom it applies (e.g. states in “non-compliance” with their safeguards agreements, which doesn’t mean that the offense is not real) but also the players who are competing on the ability to describe and interpret a situation. This leads to look beyond the uses of expertise in official political arenas – the General Assembly or the Board of Governors– to pay more attention on informal interactions, such as face to face meetings between representatives of the Member States and international Civil Servants; the “pedagogical mission” of international officials towards representatives of recalcitrant states, or the relationship between this international technical experts and news medias’ journalists. This look would provide a better understanding of the current trends and issues relative to international nuclear verification policy.
The empirical material used in support of this investigation consists of interviews conducted in Vienna, Paris, Washington, New York, Boston and Lausanne, with representative of Member States, and international officials (lawyers, engineers, and diplomats). An exploration of the grey literature enables reaching a detailed description of these international administrative routines, especially sources such as internal IAEA publications, diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, reports by US think tanks, technical books, and diplomatic memoirs. It is equally based on the analysis of changes in the structure of the budget (origins of funding) and the allocation of resources between different departments of the Agency. The changes in the composition (in terms of nationalities and professional skills) of the body of international Civil Servants will also be considered.

3.Appraising Agriculture: Tax Valuation for Wildlife Management on Private Lands in Central Texas
Karin Patzke (patzkk@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Abstract:
In the past twenty years, agriculture and land management practices in Central Texas have transitioned away from conventional agricultural operations to accommodate changing economic and environmental concerns in rural communities. The legal qualifications of property valuation have changed as well to incorporate ‘wildlife management’ as a form of agricultural valuation, incentivizing landowners to participate in conservation efforts on private lands. Initially envisioned as a means of promoting ‘eco-tourism’ and economic development in rural communities, the effectiveness of this valuation is now widely interpreted by diverse actors as a means to combat issues of land fragmentation, drought and even encroaching urbanization. Landowners who maintain an agricultural valuation of property through conservation efforts are part of a newly constructed public. Participants engage with legitimating networks, creating and disseminating dense documentation of regional wildlife management practices and joining local and national conservation communities including (but not limited to) citizen science monitoring programs.
These efforts not only change how agricultural lands look, but also how these lands can remain part of a larger discourse of ‘natural resources’ in Texas. Transitioning agriculture lands from spaces of resource production to resources conservation has required the state to promote alternative identities of agricultural lands and landowners, highlighting a new focus on stewardship. The tax valuation institutes a mediation of local knowledge of agricultural lands with contemporary values of the economic role of scientific knowledge, specifically concerning environmental conservation and endemic species. Furthermore, the tax valuation challenges conventional notions and identities of agriculture and farmers to highlight the roles of legal fictions in policy initiatives. As wildlife management increases in scope and magnitude, the legal nomenclatures of agriculture and property adjust to account for economical and environmental challenges.
This paper draws on research in progress that combines ethnographic and archival work to identify and evaluate how the material practices of bureaucracy support changes in land management practices. As rural constituents transition practices, examining the applications of tax valuation exposes how governing subjectivities through bureaucratic practices is a process of negotiation, mediation, and enrollment that links everyday practices to the perceived economic values of agricultural property in Texas. The bureaucratic documents of valuation activate new social relationships between landowners, environmentalists and conservation biologists to transform the established practices of farming and ranching to the everyday practices of conservation.
As conservation efforts on private lands expand both geographically to include large tracts of adjoining properties and legally to include conservation as a form of agriculture, questions concerning systemic changes in land-use policies arise. Is wildlife management only a means of systemically constructing and enrolling rural constituents into an economy of conservation or does the valuation represent a fundamental shift in creating and implementing natural resource policies? This paper investigates how these two aspects are not as contradictory as one might assume. Instead, wildlife management valuation represents a continual negotiation of resource stewardship according to economic and environmental challenges to state governance.

4. “Small Farmers” in Kenya’ Biotechnology Regime: Representations & Participations.
Laura Rabinow (rabinl2@rpi.edu) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Abstract:
The proposed paper will consider the discursive constructions of ‘small farmers’ and their attending ‘participation’ in the official discourse of Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority. The paper will further attempt to understand the policy implications of such representations and participations in relation to justice. It will thus, draw on longer discursive histories of ‘small farmers’ and critiques of participation in ‘D/development’ from Postcolonial Studies literature. And, it will put these in conversation with those works in STS concerning both the public understanding of and participation in science & technology policy, and the relationships of policy processes to justice.
Given the above investigations, the paper will then outline both those resistances to the dominant representations and participations of “small farmers” in the NBA’s official discourse, and some potential re-imaginings thereof in the interests of greater justice. Finally, it will consider the policy implications that these dominant and imagined representations and participations might have for broader science and technology policy, those conceptions of public understandings of and participation in policy processes. In doing so, it will contribute to the emerging strand of Postcolonial STS, examining how each area of scholarship might inform the other.

5. Interventions in Practice: Figuring Publics in Energy Policymaking
James Wilcox (wilcoj3@rpi.edu), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Abstract :
The redesign of existing energy regimes is both a highly complex endeavor and a necessary component of any transition to a more sustainable society. A diverse set of stakeholders, ranging from policymakers and industry players to activists and engaged citizens, are working to bring about this transformation through an evolving repertoire of energy policy interventions. These interventions range from traditional offerings, such as financial incentives and education efforts, to an emerging shift toward community energy development, local energy governance, and the co-provision of energy services by utilities in collaboration with customers. Figures of individual energy users—and of energy-using publics—are central to the design of energy policy interventions, with far-reaching implications for the implementation of policies, the scales at which they have the potential to operate, and the broader, socio-technical shapings they foster.
This paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork and discursive analysis of policy documents in key New York State energy policymaking institutions from 2012-2015. In it, I address two broad questions: 1) How are energy interventions conceived of, designed, and implemented, and how are energy-using publics imagined in these initiatives; and 2) How do these interventions impact modes of energy user engagement and structure energy transition pathways? More specifically, I investigate two key policy initiatives, Green Jobs, Green New York, a suite of community-based, residential energy efficiency retrofit interventions, and Reforming the Energy Vision, an effort to redesign electricity markets and regulatory regimes, and ask: Who are the publics explicitly engaged by established policymakers and how are they envisioned; how are these assumptions contested, and by whom; and who is excluded entirely?
Finally, I draw on this empirical research and the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries to develop the related idea of imaginaries of transition, an implicitly signaled or explicitly articulated set of assumptions about the complex of processes by which an existing regime is transformed into an envisioned future. I frame the two policy initiatives as comparative case studies that illustrate contested imaginaries of transition at play for New York’s energy regime that offer conflicting visions of who decides, who acts and how, and by what guiding logics.

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