Book launch event: Responsibilization in Natural Resource Governance (Irmeli Mustalahti)


Chair: Irmeli Mustalahti
Keynote: Arun Agrawal
Commentator: Anja Nygren

Book: Mustalahti, I. and Agrawal, A. (eds). 2021. Responsibilization in Natural Resource Governance. Publications of University of Eastern Finland. Reports and Studies in Social Sciences and Business Studies No 15. Joensuu, Finland ISBN: 978-952-61-3821-3

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In this session selected articles of the publication are presented by their authors.

The publication constitutes part of the Responsive Natural Resources Governance Research Group’s international collaboration at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, University of Eastern Finland. Its articles have been published in Responsibilization in Natural Resources Governance, a special issue of the Forest Policy and Economics journal. In these 10 articles, we describe how local governments, citizens and various actors participate in ever more diverse ways in natural resources governance. For example, decentralised models of natural resources governance have created new opportunities for participation, improved decision-making and increased transparency. However, we have taken a critical look in examining the phenomenon of responsibilization in natural resource governance and its linkage with neoliberal economic policy aimed at privatising state assets, reducing financial regulation, and replacing political activities with market forces. 

The articles in this compilation draw on Foucault’s theoretical framework of power and governmentality but we also approach responsibilization through the concept of symbolic violence. The term symbolic violence was coined by Pierre Bourdieu, a sociologist and philosopher who identified symbolic violence in nearly all power structures of society. Responsibilization has become a way to improve economic efficiency and the preconditions for continuous growth. Three policy recommendations are presented at the end of this compilation of articles to support citizens’ operational capacity and to make responsibilization reasonable: Through sustainability transformations implemented by citizens and other actors, the sustainability transition will eventually be one realised by responsible citizens. Not by forcing anyone, but by encouraging everyone. When aiming for sustainable development, we should strive to support well-being without expecting continuous growth – and we should avoid symbolic violence at all levels of our society.

Selected articles:

Dobrynin, D., Smirennikova, E., and Mustalahti, I., 2020. Non-state forest governance and ‘Responsibilization’: The prospects for FPIC under FSC certification in Northwest Russia. Forest Policy and Economics, 115, 102142.

Gutiérrez-Zamora, V. and Hernández Estrada, M., 2020. Responsibilization and state territorialization: Governing socio-territorial conflicts in community forestry in Mexico. Forest Policy and Economics, 116, 102188.

Ramdani, R. and Lounela, A.K., 2020. Palm oil expansion in tropical peatland: Distrust between advocacy and service environmental NGOs. Forest Policy and Economics, 118, 102242.