363.3 Transboudary governance and individualized responsibility

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Ylva UGGLA , CUReS, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Örebro, Sweden
Linda SONERYD , Department of Sociologogy, Göteborg, Sweden
Climate change is today conceptualized as the most salient environmental problem. At the same time, climate change is an emblem of transboundary and complex matters that traditional regulation and control systems many times fall short in managing. The nation-state is no longer seen as the centre of policy making. With environmental problems understood as transboundary matters, deregulation of the market, and parallel processes of globalization and individualization new forms of governance have emerged. Parallel with international negotiations and conventions, organizations and individuals are addressed as drivers of climate change mitigation. Increased attention is paid to greenhouse gas emissions from everyday life activities, such as transports, recreational activities and what we eat and wear. In this course, actors increasingly are addressed by regulatory mechanisms that appeal to the free will, implying an individualization of responsibility. We can see various ways of discursive steering, aiming at changing both peoples’ actions and their way of thinking. We can also see a number of individual responses to this kind of discursive steering, conscientiously and freely trying to make changes in everyday life. This focus on individual choices raises questions concerning three aspects of agency. How can individual actors make rational and well informed choices concerning complex processes in an overloaded market? How free is the free choice in a world with social and social material structures, and norms? What does it mean when agency is conceptualized as reflexive and responsible consumption? This paper critically analyses these aspects of individualized responsibility in environmental politics.