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Catherine Mei Ling Wong

In East Asia, climate change as a policy concern has been a late developer. The last decade, however, has seen the mainstreaming of environmental issues in core policy circles, but in the form of market-friendly, pro-industrial development framings. This paper problematizes such environmental framings by looking at the politics of state-led ecological modernization and the institutional reforms that have emerged out of it. It argues that State-led ecological modernization necessarily leads to environmental framings that are too narrowly defined by state and industrial interests - hence the focus on carbon emissions, energy security and the impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The State-driven assumption that society can modernize itself out of its environmental crisis through greater advancements in technological development also ignores the fact that this process often leads to the creation of other environmental and social problems, which in turn undermines the fundamental goals of stability and sustainability. Civil society needs to be given greater space in the policy and framing processes in order to have a more balanced policy approach to environmental reform in a more equitable way.

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Carol Hager

The energy revolution poses a fundamental challenge to the German corporatist institutional model. The push for renewables in Germany arose almost entirely outside the prevailing channels of institutional power. Eventually, federal legislation helped support the boom in local energy production that was already underway, and it encouraged the further development of new forms of community investment and citizen participation in energy supply. Recently, the federal government has tried to put the genie back in the bottle by shifting support to large energy producers. But, as this article shows, the energy transition has provided a base for local power that cannot easily be assailed. The debate over German energy policy is becoming a contest between centralized and decentralized models of political and economic power. Prevailing institutionalist theories have difficulty accounting for these developments. I analyze the local development of renewable energy by means of a case study of the Freiburg area in southwestern Germany, which has evolved from a planned nuclear power and fossil fuel center to Germany's “solar region”. Incorporating insights from ecological modernization theory, I show how the locally based push for renewables has grown into a challenge to the direction of German democracy itself.

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Michael J. Lorr

Urban sociology and urban studies increasingly employ the idea of sustainability to explain, analyze, and critique city redevelopment. While the ambiguous and oxymoronic nature of sustainability goals has been extensively covered in the past, the current resurgence and popularity of the term “sustainability,“ especially under the aegis of “urban sustainability“ or “green“ cities, requires us to rethink the usefulness of sustainability as a concept for understanding and evaluating urban redevelopment. Confronting this challenge, this article reviews three of the most common theoretical approaches to sustainability, problematizes those approaches in the context of North American cities, and then provides a working definition of urban sustainability. Finally, the article recommends four plausible research hypotheses to guide future research on urban sustainability.

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Anna Wesselink and Jeroen Warner

The aim of this special volume is to critically examine the various ways in which floods and flood management are framed in current policies, especially the “space for rivers” policies that have been adopted in many countries of Western Europe. The articles in this volume discuss different aspects of this framing, while employing different theoretical frames. Of these, Spiral Dynamics stands out as the most intriguing and least known. The papers thereby potentially contribute to reframing policy contents and/or procedures: either because they show alternative policy contents and/or because they show different ways of looking at policy making. This introductory article provides an overview of what framing means in a policy-making context, thereby highlighting the politics of engaging in (re)framing.

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Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

sociology: the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization. We conclude that these theories are not clear about either what expertise is or how to balance scientism and powerism. Therefore, we turn to science and technology studies

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Distributing Responsibilities in an Agricultural Ecosystem

Insights from the Lake Naivasha Water Basin in Kenya

Gaële Rouillé-Kielo

This article explores the responses to acknowledged anthropogenic transformations of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, whose ecosystem is considered to have been disturbed by the intensification of agricultural uses of natural resources (notably land and water) over the last half century. It examines the ways in which a “payments for environmental services” (PES) project has been implemented, reflecting the rationale of ecological modernization. This article aims to challenge the environmental narrative that supports the project by revealing its oversimplifications. Empirical data demonstrates how the environmental issues addressed by the project are embedded in historically inherited land trajectories. This in turn forces us to reflect on the necessary question of responsibility, an issue at the heart of the debate since the emergence of the Anthropocene concept.

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Natural Sciences and Social Sciences

Where Do the Twain Meet?

C. S. A. (Kris) van Koppen

development as well as philosophical debates on knowledge, science, and society. To illustrate the central problem that he aims to overcome, Jetzkowitz makes an interesting comparison between deep ecology and ecological modernization as contrasting views on

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Ryan Gunderson

most coherent and systematic forms of ideology. Neo-Marxist and related critiques of ecological modernization theory are good examples of ideology critique strategies employed to assess environmental social scientific theory (e.g., York and Rosa 2003

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Laurent Berger

externalities under the form of avoided, replacement, and operating costs ( Bruckermann 2020 ). However, while there is a major commonality with other forms of “ecological modernization” in Europe and America, there is also a fundamental divergence in this

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Lam Yee Man

sense of impending doom in the 1970s, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that Hong Kong began to feel the same way. While ecological modernization started to emerge in the 1980s in many developed countries, it was not until 2002 that Hong Kong was said