Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Tafon, R., Saunders, F., Gilek, M.

Re-reading marine spatial planning through Foucault, Haugaard and others: an analysis of domination, empowerment and freedom
(2019) Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 21 (6), pp. 754-768.

DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1673155

Open access

Marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged as a radical approach to achieving sustainable development objectives at sea. While critics challenge its avowed radicalness, often through highlighting dominative processes, more insidious mechanisms of restricted agency remain under-elaborated, as are the productive power and potential of planning. This paper offers a more robust and balanced reading of MSP/power. First, drawing on Haugaard, we read MSP as providing actors with dispositional power to act in concert, thus entailing a move from the risks of ‘resource rush’ to structuring, which facilitates predictability and promotes agency. However, MSP’ing may also restrict agency when (1) powerful actors misuse opportunities for concerted action to pursue sectoral goals; (2) planning fantasies and the planner’s cognitive limitation sustain dominative power-relations; and (3) in setting the boundaries of MSP, bias is mobilized in favor of vested interests. We thus deploy Foucault’s notion of freedom, to analyze the relationship between ‘steering’ and resistance subjectivities, and his concept of parrhesias to consider to what extent, an ethico-political planner may contribute towards more equitable processes and outcomes. We conclude that besides the planner, the state as the ultimate authority in MSP must intervene substantively to minimize differentials in the distribution of actors’ social resources. © 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
agency; domination; empowerment; Foucault and Haugaard; Marine spatial planning

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