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Chapter 15: Global Environmental Politics and Governance: A Networks and Flows Perspective
Arthur P.J. Mol and Gert Spaargaren The changing nature, role, and functioning of states in global environmental politics and governance is one of the central themes that cuts across the disciplinary boundaries within the social sciences. Especially following globalization, scholars from political science, public administration, social geography, sociology, international relations, and environmental studies, to name some of the major fields, have developed various perspectives, theories, and analyses to understand the changing nature of the state and politics in dealing with contemporary global environmental challenges. While most scholars agree that conventional, state-centered, international relations perspectives are no longer adequate in understanding global environmental governance, no single theory has yet emerged as a dominant alternative interpretation scheme. We see a variety of ideas on how to understand current trends and developments in governing global environmental change.1 One of the new perspectives on (global) environmental politics and governance, developed with sociology but slowly diffusing into other disciplines, focuses on networks and flows. This perspective might be of particular interest as it does not take states or societies as units of analyses, or as the privileged categories under study. Rather, it sees networks and flows as key constituting categories of the architecture of global modernity; and hence it argues that if we are to understand today’s global environmental politics and governance we have to understand how networks and flows function and can be governed. This means a radical deviation from the longstanding tradition of seeing states and societies as the main categories through which...
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