9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Risk, Governance and Biotechnology Building I, 1E6

Making environmental risks governable. A comparative study on transboundary risk regulation

This paper explores how environmental regulation is constructed in different areas. The point of departure is that regulation and rule-making consist of processes in which borders of society, science and environment intersect and are renegotiated. Three questions are in focus in our empirical investigation: what framings are put forward by actors involved in the regulatory process and how actors work to spread their framing; how actors are mobilized and how agency is shaped in the process; and what kinds of knowledge are seen as legitimate, valid and policy relevant in the regulatory process.
Drawing on regulation theory, discourse theory and science and technological studies, the regulation of four kinds of complex and transboundary environmental issues is analysed: protection against oil pollution in the Baltic Sea, mobile phones and radiation protection, climate change adaptation, and genetically modified crops. In these four areas, different actors articulations, strategies and practices and how they act trying to render an issue governable are investigated. The area studies are mainly conducted within a Swedish context, but it is done without leaving other relevant organisations and actors for rule-making aside (the European Union, United Nation and other relevant instances).
The analysis shows that through the use of different frames, actors make sense of rather complex phenomena, and that the frames shape what remedies they propose, which actors they consider as legitimate to influence the regulation and what kinds of expert knowledge they see as valid and relevant. Furthermore, the analysis shows that the nation-state still have an important role, but in order to try to render transboundary issues governable it has to re-organise itself in the changed and growing regulatory landscape of organisational actors and risk discourses.