Chapter 5 The Value of Legality in Environmental Action

Chapter in Brief
Annotated Resources


Chapter in Brief

Sheila Jasanoff examines the role of the law in the country case studies, both as a culturally specific expression of each society’s political and moral values and as a reflection of a universal commitment to lawfulness. She focuses on the formal and informal uses of the law by citizens and governmental bodies “in their attempts to navigate the contrary currents of environmental protection and resource appropriation” (Page 330). Jasanoff compares the cases across five areas of the law: resource allocation and planning; victim compensation; environmental standard-setting; knowledge-making; and resistance. She concludes that while the value of legality is observable in every country’s environmental policymaking, understandings of the role and limits of the law remain culture-bound.

Annotated Resources

Elinor Ostrom, ed. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
An outstanding study of the policy challenge of governing common resources. Through a detailed analysis of seven long-standing property-management regimes, Ostrom demonstrates that cooperative institutions, organized and managed by the resource users themselves, and based on shared values and sense of place, are one possible solution to the commons problem.

Ulrich Beck. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage Publications, 1992.
A groundbreaking analysis of the history and future of modernity, this book is most famous for its introduction of the theory of the risk society. Essential reading for everyone interested in modern social and cultural theory, and in environmental policy in particular.

Sheila Jasanoff. The Fifth Branch: Science Advisers as Policymakers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.
A close examination of the role of scientists in the U.S. policy-making process, based on case studies of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drugs Administration.

Sheila Jasanoff. “The Songlines of Risk.” Environmental Values 8, 1999.
This paper discusses the concept of risk as an embodiment of cultural and social values. It also examines the implications of cultural differences in risk assessment for global environmental governance, and the role of science in overcoming these differences.

David Vogel. National Styles of Regulation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986.
For students interested in comparative environmental politics, this book provides a very useful account of the differences in regulatory styles in the UK and US.


Read More: Environment, Environment/Sustainable Development

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