Environmental Politics and Deliberative Democracy

Environmental Politics and Deliberative Democracy

Examining the Promise of New Modes of Governance

Edited by Karin Bäckstrand, Jamil Kahn, Annica Kronsell and Eva Lövbrand

Can new modes of governance, such as public–private partnerships, stakeholder consultations and networks, promote effective environmental policy performance as well as increased deliberative and participatory quality? This book argues that in academic inquiry and policy practice there has been a deliberative turn, manifested in a revitalized interest in deliberative democracy coupled with calls for novel forms of public–private governance. By linking theory and practice, the contributors critically examine the legitimacy and effectiveness of new modes of governance, using a range of case studies on climate, forestry, water and food safety policies from local to global levels.

Chapter 3: The Deliberative Turn in Green Political Theory

Eva Lövbrand and Jamil Khan

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


Eva Lövbrand and Jamil Khan INTRODUCTION As outlined in Chapter 1 in this book, theories of democracy have taken a strong deliberative turn in recent decades (Baber and Bartlett, 2005; Smith, 2003; Dryzek, 2000; Elster, 1998; Bohman and Regh, 1997). In the face of a growing apathy about electoral and representative institutions, democratic theorists have since the early 1990s sought to restore democratic authenticity by revitalizing public debate. In this chapter we trace how this deliberative turn is manifested in green political theory. In parallel to the rise of new modes of environmental governance, green political theorists have in recent years examined the promise of deliberative innovations (cf. Dryzek, 1987; 1990; 2000; Eckersley, 1992; 2004; Torgerson, 1999; Smith, 2003; Baber and Bartlett, 2005; Fischer, 2005; Dobson and Bell, 2000; O’Neill, 2007; Humphrey, 2007). While still diverse, this new school of green political thinkers advances a general belief that deliberative processes will both increase the legitimacy of collective decisions and foster critical self-awareness of the ecological grounds which support our lives (Plumwood, 2001, p. 562). Through free and inclusive reason-giving on questions of common purpose, reflective citizens are expected to bridge the dual goals of strong democracy and demanding environmentalism (Baber and Bartlett, 2005, p. 12). In this chapter we approach this scholarly commitment to ecological democracy as a normative vantage point for the promise of new modes of environmental governance. Although green political theorizing is often remote from the governance debates found among policy practitioners in the EU and...

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