Sustainable Development Policy in Britain: Shaping Conduct Through Global Governmentality

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This paper relies on the premise that the environment (in an ecological sense) is political. In other words, the environment and the threat of environmental degradation and destruction are operational discourses that work to legitimate and shape power relations between states, corporations, societies and peoples. Based on this premise, and in line with Michel Foucault's notion of governmentality, this paper traces the shifting discourses of environmentalism in Britain to offer an overview of how environmental issues work to discipline relations around achieving market based objectives. I go on to argue that environmental concerns legitimate and are legitimated by globalisation and that, perhaps conversely, globalisation in relation to the environment, works in the service of neoliberal expansionist agendas. As such, this paper turns to investigate Britain's international sustainable development policy and how this works to shape and discipline, primarily gendered, social relations in consolidation of neoliberal principles. In sum, this paper contends that environmental degradation is a discourse that works to shape identities in line with a global neoliberal expansionist agenda. British Politics (2008) 3, 535-555. doi:10.1057/bp.2008.25
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-555
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • neoliberalism
  • sustainable development
  • governmentality
  • globalisation
  • environmental policy


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