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Re-regulating Socioecologies Under Neoliberalism


The objective of this chapter is to consider the relationship between neoliberalism and environments. The neoliberal era involves governments overhauling regulatory environments that govern access to and control of nature. This entails shifting regulatory regimes, not merely eviscerating them – a re-regulation. We centre our chapter on three processes of re-regulation in the neoliberal era: 1) new regulatory conditions that allow for further exploitation of natural resources; 2) innovations in private and voluntary forms of governance; and 3) the transformation of environmental problems into market-like solutions. But all is not “neo”, of course; neoliberalism inherited from liberalism particular ideas about what are the “right” ways for ecologies and subjects to be governed, the right practices through which humans should relate to and use the environments in which they are situated. For liberals, old and new, when all individuals pursue their self-interest economically, when they relate to nature and land through market logic as a resource to be constantly “improved,” all of society will be wealthier. Yet liberal and neoliberal governing strategies rely on the violent rendering of whole peoples and places as less valuable, making certain people, species, lands, waters available to be sacrificed, developed for the supposed ‘common good’.

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