Foucault News

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

Becker, Per. “Fragmentation, Commodification and Responsibilisation in the Governing of Flood Risk Mitigation in Sweden.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 39, no. 2 (March 2021): 393–413.

Open access

The purpose of this paper is to increase our understanding of the governing of flood risk mitigation in advanced liberal society, through an in-depth Swedish case study. By combining social network analysis and genealogy, this paper investigates who is involved, how they organise, their modes of thinking, how they mitigate flood risk, as well as how such regime of practises have come into being. The findings suggest dominant rationalities that reduce the actual complexity of flood risk in spatial and temporal terms to fit the legal and institutional environment. The resulting fragmentation is associated with a commodification of flood risk mitigation, in which actors expect to be able to procure modules of safety and sustainability on the market. This commodification materialises in a vacuum of responsibilisation, when obligations are imposed without commensurate guidelines. These processes of fragmentation, commodification, and responsibilisation are core constituents of neoliberalisation, which is clearly shaping the governing of flood risk mitigation even in Sweden; a bastion of the strong welfare state. Regardless of the notable individual capacities of the involved actors, systemic constraints in the governmentality have generated these detrimental processes in the face of overwhelming complexity. These systemic constraints must be removed or overcome for the governing of flood risk mitigation to match the complexity of flood risk in the catchment area. This paper thus provides input that can inform policy changes for a more sustainable future in the face of unprecedented change.

Governmentality, governing, flood risk, fragmentation, commodification

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