Terms of Engagement: Consensus or Control in Remote Australian Resource Management?
Community based natural resource management (NRM) has seen a shift in the discourse from participation to engagement, reflecting a focus on increasingly active citizen involvement in management and action. This paper considers this shift in relation to two contrasting theoretical perspectives. The first is deliberative democracy, drawing on Habermas, which emphasises the importance of discussing and rationalising values and actions. The second is governmentality, or ‘governing through community’ which draws on Foucault, emphasising neo-liberal management styles and ‘self-help’. In considering the empirical relevance of these theoretical perspectives, this paper draws on a case study of public engagement in NRM in the Lake Eyre Basin, a remote, inland region of Australia. This research yielded a practical set of “factors for success” for public engagement in remote areas. The findings support the view that, especially in remote regions, public engagement in NRM reflects contrasting goals. We make two conclusions. First, that these contrasting objectives emphasise the tension between deliberative and neo-liberal conceptualisations of engagement; and second, the evidence for neo-liberal interpretations of engagement are stronger than for deliberative interpretations of engagement in the case study region.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2009|
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