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Protesting against neoliberal and illiberal governmentalities: a comparative analysis of waste governance in the UK and China.

Hacking, Nicholas and Flynn, Andrew 2018. Protesting against neoliberal and illiberal governmentalities: a comparative analysis of waste governance in the UK and China. Political Geography 63 , pp. 31-42. 10.1016/j.polgeo.2017.12.004

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Abstract

The central states of the United Kingdom and China are committed to finding effective ways to govern normative sustainability programmes. A more sustainable waste policy solution than landfill is energy-from-waste (EfW). The governmentality perspective suggests that, to achieve such policy ends, compliance is required from a range of actors who operate at a distance from central states. This paper is the first to draw together theoretical comparisons of Western neoliberal and Chinese governmentality in the context of waste governance. We find that long-standing liberal approaches to power and policymaking witnessed in the UK have parallels with a hybrid mix of socialist governance and Chinese governmentality. Beijing seeks to govern not via neoliberal tactics of ‘freedom and liberty’, but rather through a distinct planning and administrative rationality. Our comparative case study approach allows us to illustrate the dual facilitative and authoritarian dimensions to ‘top-down’ compliance given ‘bottom-up’ counter claims of expertise by citizen scientists and other activists in local communities. This analysis in turn reveals how power plays out between state actors, corporations and local communities in these two different political and planning systems. We suggest that the progressive development of lay expertise in environmental health risks is a dynamic marker of the limits to the top-down imposition of waste policy in both countries. Our approach to comparative analysis draws attention to the need to revisit approaches to neoliberal Western governmentality and to extend empirical investigations using illiberal Chinese governmentality.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0962-6298
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 December 2017
Date of Acceptance: 17 December 2017
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 15:27
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/107646

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