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Latour's Gaia - Not down to Earth?: Social Studies of Environmental Management for Grounded Understandings of the Politics of Human-Nature Relationships

Authors:
La
tour's
Gaia
-Not
down
to
Earth?
Soc
ial
Studies
of
Environmental
Management
for
G
rounded
Understandings
of
the
Politics
of
Human-Nature
Relationships
lngmar Lippert'
Abstract
In
a recent in
stantia
tion
by
Brun
o L
arour
of
how STS can engage
with
matters
of
concern, h e conc
eptua
lises a c
han
ging
relations
hip
of
humans
with
ear
th
. For Latour,
th
e scientists' notion 'anthropocene' illustrates how humans acce
pt
th
at
th
eir industrial
acti
vit
ies are
not
merely causing some surface en
vironmenta
l
problems
bur
that
they
establi sh a
geo
logical force .
His
propo
sa l is
that
each
of
us
must
s
tru
ggle
inwardly
to
ac
hieve a
proper
en
gage
ment
with
Ga
ia (Lovelock).
Qu
es
tioning
thi
s individualist
rake, this paper reviews STS s
tudie
s on how
hum
ans and societies enact the imagery
of
'being
ab
le
to
mana
ge'
e
nvironments
.
We
find conflict. I argue
that
studyi
ng
th
e
practices
of
so-called
environme
ntal
management
shows
that
throu
gh this ac tivity
environments
are
not
merely
known
,
but
also enacted.
Thi
s move
im
p lies
th
at co
m-
pet
ing
of
enac
tm
ents
of
the
subjection
of
e
nvironment
s
to
managem
e
nt
are possible.
Consequen
tl
y,
th
e
performative
capaciti es
of
env
ironmental
managem
e
nt
e
merge
as
a
fundamenta
lly
politically
and
ethically relevant obj
ect
of
s
tud
y.
Introduction
For many, earth
it
se
lf
seems
to
be at stake; or is
it
merely
hum
an existence?
At
th
e
latest
since
the
1970s
h
egemo
nic
institutions
increas
in
gly accept
the
view
that
hum
an s a
nd
earth
must
succeed in
get
ting
along w
ith
each
other
if
the
hum
an
species is
to
survive.
Thi
s
paper
aims to
contr
ibute
to an
emerging
discussion
in
th
e field
of
Science a
nd
Technology Studies
(STS),
the
engagement
with
en
ac
tm
ents
of
environmental problem-solving
by scie
ntists
and
politics
in
th
e form
of
so
-called
management.
Science
is
co
nsidered a key
ac
ta
nt
in
pro
vi
din
g anal
yses
of
earth, serving poli
cy
-makers
to
draw
up
strategies
for saving
mankind
from
trouble
s like
climate
cite as
Lippert, Ingmar, 2014. Latour’s Gaia - Not down to Earth? Social studies
of environmental management for grounded understandings of the
politics of human-nature relationships. In: Bammé, Arno, Getzinger,
Günter, Berger, Thomas (Eds.), Yearbook 2012 of the Institute for
Advanced Studies on Science Technology and Society. Profil, Wien and
München, pp. 91-111. http://dx.doi.org/bbnb.
92
Ingmar Lippert
change, loss
of
biodivers
ity
or
water
resource depletion .
And
big
politics,
often in agreeme
nt
with
big
business, claims to have its handles on these
problem
s.
The
messa
ge
is often: yes,
out
there, we recognise,
environ-
mental
crises exist, and, no, no need to change the existing rules
of
society.
Indeed
, ecological
modernisation
-
the
hegemonic
policy approach to
tackle
environmental
problems
(Hajer
1995)
-insists
that
while
thep-
roblems are likely to ' have been caused by
moderni
sa
tion
and
industri-
alisation,
their
solutions
must
necessarily lie
in
more
-
rather
th
an less
-modernis
ation and "superindustrialisation'" (Buttel
2000,
61). However,
as
La
tour
(1993)
remarked,
we have never
been
modern:
Western
societies
never managed to
put
into
practice
the
imagined
and presupposed sepa-
ration
of
nature
and
culture.
Politics
that
consistently see ks to co ncep-
tualise
human-nature
relationships
throu
gh
the
image
of
separated
nature
and culture
is
likely to construct more and more environmental problems,
which are neither purely cultural nor purely natural. Following the studies
carried
out
by
actor-network
theory (e.g. Latour
1987)
and
by fe
minist
techno-science
studies
(e.g.
Haraway
1991), knowledges are always con-
structed.
This
includes scientific
know
ledges
of
so-called
nature
. Yet, in
2004
Latour emphasised a political nuance
of
his work:
'The
question
was
never to
ge
t away from facts
but
closer to
them,
not
fighting
empiricism
but,
on
the
contrary,
renewing
empiricism'
(2004b,
231).
For
him
the
point
was
that
STS
should
reconstruct
th
e networks enco
mpassing
earth
and
heaven,
which
hold
together
the
m
at
ters
of
concern affecting
humans
(246). Press
ing
concerns, for
him,
seem to
include
so-called environ-
mental
problems,
resulting
in
global
crises. To engage
with
matter
s
of
such
importance,
Latour
(2011)
turns
both
earth
a
nd
humans
on
their
heads, and calls for
engaging
with
'Gaia' and 'Terrians'.
In
the
2011lecture
Is
it
Poss
ible
to
Get
Ottr Materialism Back?
An
Inquiry into the Various
Idea/isms
of
Matter he provides
more
than
a nod
to
the
G
aia
hypothesis
(lovelock
& Lodge
Jr
1972;
Lovelo
ck
&
Margulis
1974).
First,
Latour
points
to
the
understanding
that
hum
ans may be s
haping
earth
mor
e
than
th
e
modernist
tak
e assumed.
This
understanding
is
becoming
widely acknowledged
as
indicated
by
the
term
anthropocene
(Crutzen
&
Ramanath
an 2000; Falkowski et al. 2000).
The
concept marks a geological
era
in
which, in Latour
's
interpretation,
industry and
humans
have become
Latottr's Gctia -Not down
to
Ectrtb ?
93
a geological force,
just
like
plat
e t
ec
tonics.
Th
e move by natural scientists
to recognise
that
humans
may cons
titute
a force powerful
enough
to
shape earth, conceptually challenges the moderni
st
dream in which
human
s
were to c
ontrol
nature
but
at
the
sa
me
time
na
ture
was supposed
to
be
un
co
ncerned about humans, i.e. not fundamentally reconfigured by humans.
Latour
(2011)
propo
ses
that
re
ce
nt
e
nvironmental
discourse can be
aptly
conceptualised
throu
g h
the
notion
of
Gaia.
Earth
has become a closed
place,
an
ecologised cosmos.
Whereas
earth
was a univers al place,
Gaia
is
local
and
thin; Gaia designates an
entity
which
is
reactive while nature
was stable
and
indifferent
to
humans;
and
whil
e env
ironment
al
problems
had
been accepted
as
happening
on
earth
(the
planet
was
not
under
thr
eat ,
it
would
survive),
Gaia
emerged
as
a fragile
being
.
He
refers
to
the
International
Panel
of
Climate
Change
(IPCC)
as
trying
to
measure
Gaia's fragility;
and
in
2010
he
laments
that
at
the
Copenha
gen
Climate
Change
Summit
(in 2009) actors 'sit on
their
hands for days doing
nothing
'
instead
of
averting
the
'revenge
of
Gaia'
(latour
2010,
4 7 3 ). Subsequently,
he challenges
the
identity
of
earth-dwelling
humans
and
propo
ses:
let
us
call Terriam all those
who
enact a sustainable
footprint,
i.e. live
in
a way
which utilises
not
more
than
one ea rth.
With
this
argument
Latour leads
us
directly to the m
eas
urement
of
'carrying capacities', hegemonic in ecological
modernisation
politics
(Hajer
1995,
26-29).
Lato
ur
is disconce
rted
by
the
thought
,
which
he references to Lovelock,
that
only
two
of
seven
humans
would
survive
Gaia
given
the
hegemonic
trajectory
of
human-
nature relationship
s.
Th
e moral imperative
implicit
to his
argument
is
that
'we' sho
uld
act
in
a
manner
th
at
will
give
greater
leeway to survival. H e
talks
of
a war
that
'we' have to
fight-
within
ourselves, between the
human
and the Terrian side (which, he proposes, are
part
of
each
of
'us'
).
He
want
s
us to develop
bett
e
r,
sustainable, ways
of
cohabitation
betw
ee
n
humans
and
non-humans
(2010):
experimenting
tog
e
th
er
in
a civilised
manner
to
brin
g
about
Gaia
(2004a). I
must
admit,
I
in
serted
the
universal 'we'
my
se
lf
for reasons
of
gr
amm
ar; Latour
did
not
point
at
all
to
different
inter
est
groups
or societal conflicts between
competing
sides
in
struggles
over
env
ironment
al
goods
or
ba
ds
(Beck
1996)
.
This
discussion leads us to a
point
at which
it
seems
ur
ge
nt
to fight for
a more sustainable way
of
conducting
life.
If
we follow this
int
erpretation
94
lngm
ar
Lippert
we are
in
great
company
-
in
the
heart
of
the
hegemonic
discourse
of
sustainable development,
win
-win
situations,
the
globa
l
green
New
Deal,
emissions
trading
and
green
consumer
lifestyles.
The
talk
of
Gaia
and
Terrians resonates
with
discourses
that
stress the responsibility and agency
of
the individual to fight their non-sustainable behaviour. This
is
a take
that
fits perfectly
to
the
program
of
ecological
modernisation.
Latour
is
not
calling
for
grand
revolutions
or
changes
of
state
policy,
but
proposes
that
'we'
understand
that
we are actually
engaging
with
Gaia,
that
we
should
abandon
the
modernist
dreams.
This
raises
the
question
of
whether
the
individualist
take is
not
in
itself
quite
modernist
.
At
least for
Huber
(2008)
it
seems se lf-evident
that
individual humans and organisations can
manage to reduce
their
ecological
footprint
and,
in
consequence, create a
green modern society.
Whi
le
other
proponents
of
ecological modernisation
(theory) like Mol (20 1 0)
would
disagree
with
the
reduction
of
ecological
modernisation
to
individualist
strategies, Latour
(2011)
is definitively
proposing
a
combination
of
analysis
(environmenta
l
problems
are now
global and threaten a large proportion
of
humans) and strategy (individual
action
is
needed), which are discursively well compatible
with
the politics
of
sustainable
development.
The
latt
er, however, has been
shown
to
stick
to modernist resource management, serving capitalist industrialism (Dingler
2003;
Eblinghaus
&
Stickler
1996).
While
Marxist
takes
point
to
the
threat
that
environmental
conflict
could
easily be resolved
not
through
the
option
of
socialism
but
through
fascism (Skirbekk
1996,
129-130)
and while, e.g.,
anarchist
practice
resulted
in
the
transformation
of
unsustainable
infrastructure
projects
into
mass conflicts (Wall
1999),
the
insight
has emerged
in
environmental
sociolo
gy
and
political science
that
so-called
sustainab
le
development
is indeed
mostly
furthering
unsustainability
(Bltihdorn
and
Welsh
2007;
Wilson
&
Bryant
1997).
Thus,
Bltihdorn
and
Welsh
call for
studies
of
how this
hegemonic
kind
of
environmenta
l
conduct
is
sustained
. Latour's
contribution
to
STS
is
great;
but
his approach
to
Gaia
seems
not
to be
down
to earth.
The
talk
of
Gaia
comes
with
the
risk
of
missing
out
the
patterned
differences
and
conflicts in
material
and
semiotic
struggles
over
the
ways environ-
ments
are enacted. I
identify
a
gap
between
this
talk
and
the
required
analyses
of
such
material-semiotic
struggles.
Hence,
here I
attempt
con-
L
at
o
tt
r's Gai
a-
Not
down
to Eartb?
95
tributing
towards closing this
gap-
by way
of
turning
to
environmental
management
as
practice.
I argue
that
STS
is
well equipped to st
ud
y a key approach suspected
of
reproducing the (un)sustainability
of
human-nature
relationships, namely
the
management
of
environments.
For
this
argument
I retrace
the
ratio-
nality
of
the
said approach
through
STS
studies
of
human-nature
inter-
action and environmental problems. By
that
I reconceptualise the engage-
ments revolving around the concept and practices
of
environmental manage-
ment.
This
allows for
this
claim
:
environmental
management
should
be
considered
as
a form
of
onto-epistemic
performative
practice.
T
racing
environmental
management
The
concept
of
environmental
management
refers
to
directed
endeavours
by
humans
to
influ
ence, shape or control selected elements
of
the
environ-
ment,
that
is,
of
the
world
external
to
the
manager
(for a discussion
of
definitions
cf.
Lippert
2010b,
Sections
5.2-5.3).
Literature
within
the
academic field
of
environmenta
l
management
mostly
ana
lyses
'nature'
or
tools
and
instruments
to
intervene
in
'nature'.
As a
critique,
Bryant
and
Wilson
(1998)
propose
that
social scientific takes
shou
ld
be
utilised
to
understand
how
the
environment
is
managed
or how 'actors seek to
man-
age
the
environment'
(338).
Albeit
they
demand
no less
than
a complete
'paradigm
shift'
(Kuhn
1970)
within
the
field
of
environmental
manage-
ment,
they firmly reproduce the neat separation between social and natural
sciences,
imagining
environmental
management
as
an
interdisciplinary
field (cf.
Bryant
&
Wilson
1998,
331:
Figure
1). STS seems to have
much
to
offer
in
this respect:
in
laboratory
studies
(Doing
2008)
and
in
studies
of
applied
ecology and
other
field sciences (e.g.
Waterton
2002,
Wynne
1996), STS
sc
holars scrutinised
the
production
of
facts
of
nature and inter-
ventions
therein,
finding
that
natural
science and facts are profo
undl
y
social
and
that
the
social is also
profoundly
material
and technical. I take
this
literature
to
suggest
that
environmental
management
studies
wou
ld
better
recognise
the
ultimately
hybrid
character
of
the
objects
deemed
to
be
managed
as
well
as
their
managers
and
their
instruments.
96
I ngma r Lip pe
rt
In
an
edited
volume
by
Picketing
and
Guzik
(2008),
Asplen
(2008)
claims to provide us
with
the
account
which
we are looking for:
her
paper
takes
the
vantage
point
that
studying
the
work
and
practices
of
environ-
mental
managers
would
provide
'a
potent
space for
mapping
the
inter-
relationships
and
mutually
constitutive
interplay
between "agents"
on
both
sides
of
the
traditional
divide
between
nature
and
culture'
( 163
).
Subsequently she presents
the
reader
with
amazing claims:
environmental
managers and
their
approaches emerge
as
'
mangle-ish
', i.
e.
'they
reflect an
explicit recognition
and
sensitivity
to[
... }
posthumanist
perspectives[
... }
through
a fundamentally decentered
and
open-ended approach to environ-
mental
management
practice' (166).
This
would indeed be
great
news:
the
picture
she draws differs
utterly
from
the
criticisms
so
aptly
summarised
by e.g.
Bryant
and
Wilson
(1998);
if
environmental
managers
in
their
engagement
with
realities recognise
the
implicatedness
of
humans
in
the
objects
which
they
presumably
manage, we
might
expect less
environ-
mental
management
imagining
and seeking to dominate nature (to extract
resources for
capitalist
purposes). She portrays managers
as
being
open-
minded
with
respect
to
the outcome
of
their engagement
with
environments.
If
this
was
the
case, these
human
agents
would
be
willing
to
abandon
the
exercise
of
managing
earth,
as
in
geo-engineering,
nuclear energy
pro-
duction
or emissions trading.
Unfortunately
,
her
empirical evidence seems
to
fail
in
substantiating
her
claims for a straightforward reason: she enrols
the
support
of
environmental
managers'
narratives for
her
optimistic
account
. She
optimistically
reproduces these
practitioners'
retrospective
narratives
about
their
work.
This
approach to analysis fails
to
engage
with
actual
environmental
management
pr
a
ctice.
For a
more
substantial
account,
it
seems necessary to engage
with
studies
of
the
instruments
of
environmental
management
and
the
practices
by
which
they are exercised
upon
presumably
external realities. To do this
we need
to
turn
physically
to
study
the
actors
and
their
instruments
in
their
every-day
situations
(Lippert
2010a). A first
point
we have
to
recognise is
that
limits
to
managing the
en
vironment exist (Lippert
2011d)
.
In
many
ways any
management
of
environments
is
situated
in
particular
local,
material
, historical, discursive
and
practical circumstances;
and,
further,
the
conceptions
and
imaginaries
of
the
manager
her- or
himself
L
ato11r
's G
aia-
Not down
to
Eartb? 97
are always
adapted
to
these circumstances -
which
can be considered
both
enabling
as
well
as
constraining
(Lippert 2011a).
And
these
limits,
I propose,
cannot
simply
be
integrated
and
levelled
out
w
it
hi
n environ-
me
ntal
ma
nagement
practices
but
position
the
latter
as
precarious
as
well
as
politically
and ethically
problematic.
Nevertheless,
environmental
management
is
largely
staged
as
omni-
potent,
performing
various
god
tricks (Haraway
1988),
not
only
in
re-
presenting environments
but
also
in
governing
th
em. To provide evidence
for this
interpretation,
I sketch
the
field
of
recent STS accounts
of
environ-
mental
management
practices,
their
agents
and
their
artefacts (for an
underlying
review
of
this
literature,
see
Lippert
2011a).
Representing environments
...
. . . is key for
the
management
approach to sustainability. Its
assumption
is
that
evidence
of
what
is
happening
on
earth
ought
to be,
as
well
as
would
be, used
as
the
base for
decision-making.
Evidence, however, is a
tricky
concept. Discursively,
what
counts
as
evidence may be heavily contested. As no universal all-encompassing world
model
can
exist-
and
what
would
be its use(?),
it
would
be too complex
to be
manageable
-any
representation
constitutes
a
translation
from
some reality
into
another, whereas
the
very
point
is
th
at
the
information
differs
after
its
translation
(Latour
2005).
Law (2
009
,
144)
calls
this
quality
'betrayal'.
No
method
seems
to
exist
which
would
not
imply
such
differences.
Representation
is
thus
inherently
limited
.
The
question
is
what
kind
of
limits
affect actors (Lippert
2011a)
- a
question
which
should
not
be too easily reduced to
the
question
of
which
ex
te
rnalities
(Coase
1960),
or overflows (Callon
1998),
are
built
into
management
approaches.
In
the
discourse
of
global
climate
management,
for instance,
Ninan
(20 11 b) identifies
that
management
instruments
such
as
the
Clean
Development
Mechanism
are
modelled
on
the
assumption
that
gradual
changes
that
improve
industrial
practices
will
suffice
to
fight
global
warming.
Representing
environments
in
the
climate
change discourse
has become an issue
of
economically
internalising
environmental
goods
and
bads.
This
constitutes
a
stark
epistemic
reduction
.
This
kind
of
re-
98
ln
gmar Lippert
ductionism in representing environments
is
not
limited
to climate change
but
is
being
applied
to
all
kinds
of
environmenta
l
entities,
including
ecosystem services (Sullivan 201 0) -whereas
the
latter
have been con-
ceptualised precisely to allow
them
to be processed by this economic
reductionism.
Scientific representations are,
of
course, supposedly clearly traceable back
to
the
original raw
data
(Latour 1987).
Thus,
the
following claim is wide-
spread: even
if
representations are actually only narrowly
representing
some
environmental
entity,
if
agents
wanted,
in
principle
they
should
be
able to
get
back to
the
original
data
to
study
the
entity
again, i.e. reveal
it
more fully. However,
as
Waterton
(2002)
shows
in
her
study
on
the
practices
of
putting
the
UK
National
Vegetation Classification
(NVC)
and
the
EU
CORINE
Biotopes Classification
into
practice,
reversibility
of
the
environmental
facts
produced
in
ecology is
not
necessarily given.
Similarly,
in
climate
change
mode
llin
g
and
accounting
, fact
production
cannot
necessarily be traced back
to
some
antecedent
nature
because
their
data
is
not
independently
given
bur
materially-socially
constructed
(Edwards
2010,
Lippert 2013). This can be explained
through
the practices
of
myriad translations
and
processes
of
formatting
environmenta
l data.
No
unmediated
relation
exists between
knower
and
known.
Haraway
0988)
convincingly
made
the
point
that
not
only are knowers socially
and
historically
positioned
,
but
also they are biologically positioned.
Consider for a
moment
the
fact
that
the
human
eye
is
restricted
in
its
perception to certain wavelengths.
And
no prosthetic technology will ever
allow
the
human
eye
to
see
everything
.
At
each
step
of
translation
data
is
thus
reprocessed, flowing from one form
into
another
-
with
cor-
responding overflows. Let alone
the
point
that
agents
who
are to represent
an
entity
always have
to
interpret
how exactly
this
representa
tion
should
be performed; even
if
they act totally
in
agreement
with
the
discursive
reduction
of
the
entity,
they
are normally concerned
not
only
with
the
process
of
representation
but
also
with
practical issues, like
getting
the
work
done,
as
Lippert
(2012)
shows for
the
case
of
corporate carbon
accounting
.
This
may easily require
getting
the
presumably
internalising
documents
into
an
order
that
also
si
lences (i.e. externalises,
Strathern
2005)
precisely
in
order
to foreground
particular
rea
liti
es-
always
with
L
at
o!t
r's
Ga ia - Not
dow
n
to
Earth?
99
an
ima
g
ined
audience
in
mind
(Garfinkel
1967,
Chapter
6).
Inter-
nalisation enacts
at
the
same
time
betrayal
of
the
environmental
entity
.
Whether
representations
of
environments
can actually
constitute
an
appropriate base for decision
-m
aking can often not be answered for all
of
the
affected actors
in
the
same
way.
Strauss (20 11) provides a detailed account
of
the
implications
of
visualisation
techniques
used
in
environmenta
l
management
and
landscape
planning
. She shows
that
while some form
of
landscape
impact
representation
might
be useful for corporations re-
questing a planning permission, citizens would require different perspectives
to
have a base for
informed
decision-making.
In
her
study
she shows
that
the
bird's eye view
of
a
planned
nuclear
power
plant
in
Fin
land does
not
easil y allow
the
affected
publics
to
envision
the
visual effect
of
the
plant
from
the
human
eye perspective
at
ground
level. To improve
parti
cipation
in
environmental
management,
a
number
of
organisations have
to
some
extent
started
to
integrate
affected actors
in
the
construction
of
the
organisation's
know
l
edge
about
its
environment
.
Lippert
(2011c) recon-
structs
how
a
corresponding
corporate
suggestion
scheme (a participative
instrument) utilised for energy knowledge management worked in practice.
Environmental
experts m ay be
positioned,
he shows,
to
select
in
and
out
certain types
of
knowledge
of
the environmental situation
within
or around
the
organisation.
Martello
(2008)
exemplif
i
es
this
problem
in
a
study
of
representations
of
climate
change
in
the
Arctic.
While
she
points
to
the
emancipatory
potential
of
representations and new forms
of
knowledge,
she also shows how for
examp
le male
knowledges
are privileged in re-
presentations
of
th
e effects
of
environmental
change.
This
discussion clearly indicates
that
no form
of
representing environ-
mental
entities
is
impartial
or universal. For
environmenta
l
management
this implies
that
its knowledge base renders any activity inherently po
lit
ical.
'Governing
at a distance'
...
...
is a concept based
upon
the
work by Latour
(1987)
to
denote processes
by
which
actors persuade others
to
organise
their
practices
in
line
with
the
policies
of
the
former. For
environmenta
l
management,
the
ability
to
achieve effective
action
at
a distance
is
a
significant
presupposition.
100 l
11g
lll
ct
r Lippert
A
well-known
and
widely accepted concept is to refer
to
this issue
as
'policy
implementation'
.
Environmental
management
policies conceived
at
the
top
of
an
environmental
bureaucracy need to be
implemented
at
ground
level to come
into
effect.
The
typical
environmental
manage-
ment
approach
can
be
reduced
to
top-down
didactics:
policies
are
designed
as
scripts which need to be correctly
interpreted
as
plans
and
put
into
practice. However,
as
Suchman
(2007)
suggests, devising
plans
and
policies
fo
llows an
utt
erly different logic compared
to
situated
practice-
for practical action takes place
in
particular locations and
under
particular
circumstances. Any
plan
for an
environmental
management
intervention
has to be translated
into
the
situation,
requiring
the
alignment
of
hetero-
geneous entities, including humans, technologies and natures,
as
Akerman,
Kaljonen, and Peltola (2005)
point
out
with
respect to the
implem
enta
tion
of
agri-environmental
and energy policies.
Despite
efforts for effective
translation, some
of
these
entities
might
resist: Krause
(2011)
indicates
how
a river,
presumab
ly
managed,
does
not
fit
the
engineers'
dynamic
models. Managers are,
and
this
may
be Asplen's
point,
aware
of
the
fact
that
natures
do
not
necessarily fit
into
their
plans.
Thus,
managers
can
be conceptualised
as
heterogeneous
engineers
(law
1987),
trying
to
align
all
the
entities
relevant
to
achieve a successful
management
action.
When
engaging
with
management
success, we immediately encounter
the
fact
that
success
depends
entirely
on
the
performance
of
complying
with
a given
norm,
such
as
a
standard.
Suchman
(2000),
studying
civil
engineers
building
a bridge, addresses
the
production
of
an
Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS). This kind
of
environmental management docmnent
constitutes
not
merely a
document
representing
facts,
but
is also used
as
a technology for
ordering
various publics
and
the
bridge-building
process
simultaneously.
To
allow
the
bridge
construction
process to move ahead,
citizens need to be enrolled.
Thus,
environmental
management
in
this case
needs lay actors to agree
with
a
construction
choice.
This
need
is
legally
and
practically
stipu
lat
ed:
existing
official norms
stipulate
participation
in
all
kinds
of
environmenta
l projects. Also,
in
order
to
prevent
conflict,
environmental
managers need
to
persuade powerful affected actors to
accept
the
intervention
decision.
Environmental
management
thus
needs
to effectively
govern
these actors
in
order
to ensure
that
the
management
Lctto
11r
's
Ga
i
a-
Not
clown
to
Eartb? 101
plan
can be
pursued
.
Note
that
successful
management,
therefore,
is
not
related intrinsically to environmental ethics or
the
like. Rather, what norms
managers use
to
perform
their
competence
is
an
empirica
l
question
.
In
a
study
of
the
practice
of
pollution
regulation
in
Norway
, Asdal (20 11)
finds
that
while state
environmental
management
may be able to ensure
consensual
pollution
accounting
(referring to
accounting
sta
nd
ards),
this
does
not
necessarily
imp
ly
that
environmental
man
agers
manage
to
force
industry
to
reduce its emissions (referring to ecological norms).
This
raises
the
question
of
what
is
actually governed at a
di
stance and
by
whom
. Asdal's
study
problematises
the
assumption
that
state environ-
mental
officers are able to manage
the
em
issions
of
a factory.
In
theory
the
public
office is supposed
to
govern
the
factory's
polluting
practices from
a distance.
In
order
to
do this they have agreed
that
the
corporation
intro-
duces emissions
accounting.
While
the
sta
te
environmental
managers
fail
to
effectively govern
the
factory's
environmenta
l
conduct,
however,
the
business actors are able
to
tak
e
the
initiative
and govern
within
the
public environmental
management
office, ensuring
that
no pollution limits
are defined or enforced
which
would
threaten
business-as-usual. Such a
pattern
of
parallel directions
of
(non-)effective governance
within
environ-
mental
management
is paralleled by
this
case on waste
management:
Lippert (2010, 2011e) shows how a recycling arrangement
is
able to govern
the processing
of
waste, while
the
environmenta
l
manager
is governed by
the
convention
that
the
waste's existence
in
itself
cannot
be
questioned
.
In
effect,
environmental
management
interventions
may
thus
result
in
naturalisations
of
environmentally
detrimental
assemblages .
Environmental
management
is thus facing
thr
ee
dimensions
of
govern-
ance
problems:
all
kinds
of
social,
material
and
discursive
elements
need
to be ali
gned
to
affect a
workable
so
lution
.
How
ever,
competing
norms
exist
which
cou
ld
be
employed
to measure
the
success
of
governing
these
e
lement
s. Finally, we find
that
while
enviro
nm
ental
management
inter-
ventions can be staged
as
successful ,
the
networks causing
environmental
crises may be
sustained
.
This
section revisited two key assumptions
of
environmental manage-
ment
-
that
accurate representations
of
environments are possible and that,
based
upon
these representations,
management
can
int
ervene in and govern
102 I ngma r Lip pert
environments.
STS
studies
on
environmental
management
in
practice
can well be
translated
in
emphasising
the