Conserving ̶n̶a̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ power: an exploration of biodiversity offsetting in Europe and beyond

Brock, Andrea (2019) Conserving ̶n̶a̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ power: an exploration of biodiversity offsetting in Europe and beyond. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This dissertation draws on multi-sited fieldwork to understand the history and development of biodiversity offsetting in Europe and beyond. It situates offsetting as a social technology of governance in the management of resistance and dissent against corporate and state degradation and violence, and as an instrument to flexibilise restrictive legislation imposing limits to industrial expansion in Europe.

I analyse offsetting through the lens of corporate and state power and violence, contextualising it in the dominant social economic order, exploring its role in the advancement of social control and accumulation, and in the invisibilisation and entrenchment of the epistemic, physical and slow violence(s) exercised against human and nonhuman nature, in the form of industrialism and extractivism, state control and policing of dissent.

While a critical literature on offsetting now contributes to our understanding of the tensions, politics and value struggles around offsetting, it has tended to focus on the ‘novel’ commodification and marketisation aspects of offsetting. It frequently privileges structural explanations rooted in the expansionary market logic unleashed under neoliberal capitalism, while overlooking the long history of the ideology and practice of offsetting, deeply rooted in industrialism, domestication and exploitation of human and nonhuman nature, and the need for corporate and state legitimacy in the face of (increasingly visible) social and ecological degradation and ever-more apparent failures of the green economy.

By situating offsetting historically and in its political economic context, this thesis demystifies and denaturalises abstract ideas of the ‘market’. It challenges the emerging hegemony of critical analyses of offsetting that often resort to marketisation and financialisation as explanatory devices and contributes to the theorisation of the ongoing transformation of neoliberal capitalism, statehood and corporate citizenship, as part of wider processes of reconfigurations of governance that are the product of the dialectical relationship between capitalism, the state, and its critics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0079 Special topics, A-Z > HC0079.E5 Environmental policy and economic development. Sustainable development Including environmental economics
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0240 Europe
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0001 Natural history (General) > QH0075 Nature conservation
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 31 May 2019 08:45
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 08:31

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