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Robert Hoppe and H.K. Colebatch

One of the reviewers of an earlier draft of this handbook questioned whether there was any need for the editors to say anything more at this point: ‘The chapters speak for themselves’, it was said. Well, perhaps they do, but we saw a handbook on the policy process as being more than a collection of self-referential chapters; we wanted it to be a user’s guide to the ways in which scholars have crafted their analyses of policy as part of the pursuit of governing – that is, the way in which they have theorised ‘policy’. In our introductory chapter, we outlined our perspective on policy as a concept which is mobilised by both participants and observers in the accomplishment of governing, and explained why we had structured this handbook the way we did. In closing the book, we want to review how this perspective has contributed to our growing understanding of the process of governing, and the concepts we use to make sense of it. In doing so, we revisit the questions that ordered this handbook: do the different meanings of ‘policy’ have a recognisable ‘architecture’ that puts them under a common ‘signature’? What does it mean to speak of a ‘policy process’? Is it possible to order the field of theorising the policy process in a few root metaphors or panoramic views of policymaking? And how do these views relate to each other – are they parallel and complementary, rivals or incommensurable? In posing and answering these questions, we cannot avoid adding our own observations, accents and reflections as editors to the ways our authors have responded to our original calls. We stressed that we did not want this handbook to be simply a menu of ‘leading theories of the policy process’; this has already been done (most recently, by Weible and Sabatier, 2017). We have focused on the process of theorising: the way in which practitioners, observers and the public have used the idea of policy, and of a policy process, to make sense of governing in contemporary society. ‘Policy’ is used in a diversity of ways, often undefined and ambiguous, and eludes any attempt to confine it in a clear definition. At best, ‘policy’ is an ‘umbrella’ for a set of family resemblances (Wittgenstein, 1953/2010) under one non-essentialist concept. Following Agamben, it is perhaps even more honest and precise to speak of a range of problematic phenomena or events that bear the ‘signature’ of policy. All social inquiry, policy inquiry included, involves the identification of enigmatic, problematic situations and events and the choice of pertinent concepts, ‘which entail signatures, without which they remain inert and unproductive’ (Agamben, 2009: 78). What we in scholarly parlance call ‘concepts’, start their scientific trajectories as ‘signatures’, which act like clues or keys to ‘unlock’ those enigmatic situations and make them ‘legible’. Only much later, as links between observation and models are established, do the signatures acquire, justifiably or not, the character of scientific ‘concepts’

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Edited by David Levi-Faur and Frans van Waarden

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Byron Miller

While globalization processes have operated for centuries, the present era of globalization has given rise to extremes of income inequality and wealth, capital and information transfer, and resource consumption and consumerism with attendant environmental consequences. Behind contemporary globalization lurks the question: for whom? The distribution of the costs and benefits of globalization has been highly uneven, both amongst nation-states and within them. Moreover, globalization processes have been controlled and advanced in large measure by states and corporations of the global North and their proxy institutions of global governance – the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. The problematic nature of contemporary globalization has given rise to a variety of responses, including defenses of the status quo, left-wing anti-globalization movements, and right-wing anti-globalization movements laced with xenophobic populism. In contrast to responses that either embrace or reject globalization in its present form, alter-globalization movements (sometimes called ‘global justice movements’) do not seek to end globalization through a return to an imaginary golden era of national autarky. Rather, they seek global engagement and exchange on a basis that protects and advances values of social, economic, and environmental justice. Interestingly, the very idea of just forms of globalization requires the rethinking of norms of justice, which can no longer be tied to the Westphalian nation-state. Moreover, strategies for creating a more just world may take a variety of geographical forms, focusing on different geographical scales. Alternative projects of globalization recognize the relationship between the global (which is always ‘somewhere’) and the local, creatively experimenting with new forms of organization along the local-global continuum.

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Simon Dalby

Climate change is an increasingly urgent matter of global politics, a consequence of the huge success of the fossil-fueled global economy. The longstanding discussion of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock’s ideas of earth as a self-regulating life system, and the dangers that rising greenhouse gas concentrations present to this system, foreshadow contemporary earth system science discussions. The formulation of earth as now in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, has added forcefully to Lovelock’s contentions, and made it clear that globalization now needs to be understood as a driving force operating at such a scale that it is transforming the planet in ways that are very dangerous for the future of humanity. Current attempts to tackle climate change are only the beginning of what needs to be done to shape the Anthropocene in ways that will be benign to humanity’s future.

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Joe Williams

This chapter argues that the development of large-scale seawater desalination over the last two decades has been intimately linked to the privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of water services in general, and urban water in particular. It contends that a desalination “plant” should be more accurately understood as a desalination “factory”, which creates a manufactured product (potable water) in a pre-arranged quantity and with a pre-specified quality. The chapter provides a detailed analysis of the convoluted development of desalination as a decentralised and local water supply for San Diego, California. It focuses on two plants on the North American Pacific coast: the 189 ML/day Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County, which opened in 2015; and a larger facility currently under construction south of the US-Mexico border at Rosarito Beach, Baja California, which is heralded as the first ever “binational” seawater desalination project. My core contention here is that desalination is emerging as an important technology in political and ideological shift towards the neoliberalisation of municipal water supply.

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Richard Eccleston and Ainsley Elbra

Economic liberalisation and the rise of MNCs in recent decades have been a double-edged sword. With the exception of the 2008 Financial Crisis and its aftermath, the rise of global capitalism has been a key driver of economic growth and technological innovation, but at the same time has undermined state sovereignty and exacerbated inequality (Mikler 2018). Nowhere has this dualism been more apparent than in the realm of corporate taxation, which has become a prime example of what Martin Wolf (2012) describes as a ‘contemporary tragedy of the global commons’. The ‘tragedy’ is such that MNC tax avoidance is now estimated to deny governments over a quarter of a trillion US dollars per year, and after years of ignoring the issue governments and firms are being forced to act (Clausing 2015; OECD 2015).

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Suraya Scheba and Andreas Scheba

Desalination is being adopted in South Africa as an emergency ‘quick fix’ to drought crisis. Despite public opposition over potential social and ecological negative effects, small- and large-scale desalination plants are growing in numbers across the country. In this chapter we use a relational Marxist ontology and draw on the case of desalination adoption in the Knysna Local Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa, to argue that proponents’ representation of the drought as nature-induced, urgent and devoid of history created the political space for desalination technology to emerge as the best solution. Powerful actors used a range of communication and legal tools to discursively produce the drought–desalination assemblage, which resulted in the material manifestation of the technology. We then trace the historical materiality of the drought–desalination assemblage to counter the dominant narrative, providing instead an alternative explanation of how human and non-human actors produced the crisis materially.

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Paul C. Adams

Digital media contribute to globalization through several interlinking processes. First, global infrastructures permit communications to move faster, farther, and more often between distant parts of the world. The proliferation and diffusion of devices such as mobile (cell) phones and computers are integral to this process, as are the complementary signal relay systems provided by satellites and optical fibres. Second, these media and the digital signals they carry facilitate globalization insofar as they support visual and auditory forms of engagement between widely separated locations. People increasingly experience ‘the world’ via media, but this world differs in significant ways from place to place. In effect, people encounter a range of contrasting globalized visions, depending on whether they live in a place that is urban or rural, more or less developed, in the Global North or the Global South. Third, a phenomenon called mediatization folds global forces and processes into everyday life, reworking daily practices in ways that respond to global influences. A familiar activity such as driving now involves long-distance data streams coordinated by an on-board device and its embedded algorithms, all of which mediatize the act of driving and rework the cognitive skills of the driver. The chapter concludes by applying the three dimensions of globalization to the case of Rwanda. This example demonstrates that even where a small percentage of the population actually uses digital communications the diffusion of digital media may have noticeable effects on labour conditions, commodity handling, social power relations, profit distribution and economic vulnerability.

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Maria Christina Fragkou

Desalinated water production has been celebrated by some as a solution to water scarcity and the barriers this means for social and economic development, as it produces water from an infinite source, the sea. Political ecology studies on the other hand, have now long been concerned by the possible social implications of this technique, but without any tangible evidence so far. In this chapter I critically analyse how the production of desalinated water for human consumption has permitted the growth of the mining sector in the world’s main copper supplier, the Chilean region of Antofagasta, while undermining the quality of life for the urban residents who consume it. The results are based on a survey which examined the perception of potable water quality and the uses of tap water in households, over 10 years after the plant´s functioning. Drawing on these, I demonstrate that the gradual introduction of desalinated water in the city’s metabolism has deepened existing socio-ecological inequalities within an already heavily segregated city, and has failed in overcoming tap water quality concerns for the residents of Antofagasta, maintaining perceptual and economic water scarcities, especially for lower-class households. These analyses do not only advance findings on desalination’s social impacts on the urban scale, but also disclose the importance of examining urban water inequalities at the household level, as the formation of daily practices and uses of tap water generate unequal conditions for urban dwellers, which cannot be grasped by city-wide analyses, usual in the urban political ecology tradition.

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Virginie Mamadouh

English is widely acknowledged as the language of globalization and the growing hegemony of English has been seen as a main cultural outcome of globalization. This process is shaped by contradictory forces towards linguistic harmonization but also towards diversification, and is geographically uneven. The chapter introduces the hegemony of English driven by globalization before discussing the debates about the impact of globalization on English (Globish vs. World Englishes?) and the future of English. It then turns more specifically to language use on the Internet to show how the technology, originally a vector of Anglicization, has also become a powerful instrument for the expression of linguistic diversity. The prevalence of English and other languages on the Internet is discussed, as well as its possible impact on offline language geographies. The conclusion offers some directions for research agendas regarding the impact of globalization on languages and more specifically the strategies of states and local communities to cope with English, migrants languages and the erosion of the territorial monopoly of national languages.