Foucault News

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

Mulberg, Jon. “The Challenge of Environmental Governance: Ecology and the Need for a Heterodox Political Economy.” The Journal of Australian Political Economy, no. 80 (2017): 129–54.

AThis article will investigate the problem of environmental governance. It will question the scientific status of the discipline of economics, and suggest that economics is best viewed as a form of political governance. It maintains that the discipline performs an ideological function to enable justification of what are essentially political decisions.

Rather than employ orthodox economics to develop policies on environment, the article will attempt to show how ideas from the green movement, such as discontinuity and tipping points, social limits and defensive expenditures, and holistic approaches as opposed to individualistic methodologies, could be employed in the formation of a Green political economy, which the article suggests is what is required rather than slight changes to current environmental policy. Orthodox economics could be viewed as an example of what Habermas referred to as the ‘scientization of politics’, whereby political questions are reframed as scientific debates, and removed from the political agenda (Habermas 1969: ch. 6). The article employs the work of Foucault to argue that the discipline of economics and the discourse it promotes form part of a power network and are a major part of modern governance. For Foucault it is the discourse which has replaced domination as the main form of contemporary power, and political economy is a major discourse legitimising the social order.

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