The Intricacy of Policy Making: Assessing Environmental Management in the Lower Athabasca, Alberta, Canada
Regt, W.H.P. de
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This thesis explores societal–environment interactions in the context of environmental policy making processes in the Lower Athabasca, Alberta, Canada. Applying insights from the Actor-Network Theory, the thesis systematically analyses the policy making network by identifying and explaining embedded network processes. Particularly the thesis shows how different discursive and practical techniques are used by actors to characterise other entities, and configure the relationship between human development and the natural environment. The thesis demonstrates how the culture–nature dichotomy constructed in environmental management is problematic for environmental policy making processes. Environmental management entails the negotiation and settlement of deep differences regarding cross-cultural understandings of human society’s position within the environment. The dichotomy has a profound impact on power dynamics in the network and even triggers a reversion of the network forming process to the framing of environmental issues. As such the thesis concludes that network formation is not a linear process but that networks have an emergent quality. Elaborating on new ecological thought in ecological anthropology, the thesis further explains that societal–environment interactions do not only occur in the physical environment, but also in policy making processes.