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Responzibilization in Natural Resources Governance


Abstract and Figures

This compilation of articles and policy briefs constitutes part of the Responsive Natural Resources Governance Research Group’s international collaboration at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies of the University of Eastern Finland. The articles have been published in Responsibilization in Natural Resources Governance, a special issue of the Forest Policy and Economics journal. In this special issue, we describe how the participation in natural resources governance of local governments, citizens and various actors has increased and become more diverse. For example, decentralised models of natural resources governance have created new opportunities for participation, improved decision-making and increased transparency. Our authors, however, take a critical approach to examining the phenomenon of responsibilization in natural resource governance and its linkage with neoliberal economic policy, which aims at privatising state assets, reducing financial regulation, and replacing political activities with market control. Indeed, in the works of the French philosopher Michel Foucault, and in the extensive research literature stemming from his thinking, power structures and the responsibilization of citizens by their governments are given plenty of attention. Besides Foucault, we also refer to scholars of other disciplines who look at responsibilization in different fields, on different levels and from a variety of perspectives (such as Christopher Grey, Ylva Uggla, Meghann Ormond, Iain Ferguson, Tanya Marray Li, and Nancy Lee Peluso). In this compilation, we want to highlight not only natural resource governance, but also other fields that boast critical thinking and extensive research knowledge on responsibilization. The articles in this compilation rely on Foucault’s theoretical framework of power and governmentality, but we also approach responsibilization through the concept of symbolic violence. The term symbolic violence was coined by Pierre Bourdieu, a sociologist and a philosopher who has identified symbolic violence in nearly all power structures of society. Responsibilization has become a way to improve economic efficiency and the preconditions of continuous growth. Obligations, instruments of control and demands imposed from above, as well as culturally accepted yet oppressive practices, are examples of soft and invisible violence, which can lead to discrimination, social inequality, corruption, passive governments, and biodiversity depletion. Case studies show how responsibilization impacts to various actors when local governments’, citizens’ and various actors’ responsibility for natural resources governance is increased without at the same time providing them with adequate operating conditions, information and resources. The book is open access from here:
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