By analysing the policy process leading to the introduction of interest registers in France and Sweden, this article argues that their use as a policy instrument was crucial for acknowledging and defining conflict of interest as a problem. It challenges rationalist approaches to public policy that focus on how the adoption of policy solutions follows the identification of policy problems, instead, favouring the acknowledgement of how problems and solutions can exist independently. To identify how interest registers became a preferred policy solution, the article traces how policies from the UK and US were integrated in the global anti-corruption toolkit in the 1990s and subsequently adopted in France and Sweden in the 2010s. It uncovers the sequencing of events, and, specifically, the evolution of public discourse on conflicts of interest around the adoption of public interest registers. It shows that interest registers contribute to (re)define the problem of conflict of interest in new contexts of adoption. The sequencing of events suggests that the problem of conflict of interest was rarely used before the instrument’s adoption and, what is important, did not have a clear ‘stabilised’ shared meaning. Interest registers thus give reality to the problem and modify its definition. By establishing which interests are to be declared in standardised forms, interest registers define new ‘risk areas’ for corruption. They also convey the idea that the problem relates to an asymmetry of information between elected officials and voters that can be corrected through transparency measures, shifting the locus of problem-solving responsibility to the public.
This article explores the development and resistance dynamics of capital in the neoliberal era of capitalist development. The context for this exploration is Latin America, the region that has been most severely impacted by the globalising dynamics of the world capitalist system, which is in the throes of a multidimensional crisis that has assumed global proportions. The region has also seen the most powerful forces of resistance to this development, a resistance led by the Indigenous and farming communities on the extractive frontier. It is argued that each advance of capital in the development process, that is, each phase in the capitalist development of the forces of production – from the colonial era of mercantilism and extractive imperialism to the era of neoliberal globalisation – has generated corresponding forces of resistance, leading to a succession of development–resistance cycles in the evolution of capitalism as a world system.
In this article we identify the ways in which Leon Trotsky’s ideas constitute a powerful resource to understand the contemporary crisis of international relations and its historical roots in the 20th century. Trotsky’s concept of uneven and combined development has already been highlighted as a signal contribution by an established scholarship in and around the discipline of International Relations. While this is a welcome development, we contend that it has come at a significant cost, detaching Trotsky’s theoretical insights from his revolutionary politics. We employ a different mode of engagement with Trotsky’s ideas, focusing on the theory of Permanent Revolution as an expression of an original analysis of the dialectic between the national and the international. Far from being a theoretically detachable and politically erroneous appendage to the more fundamental and applicable concept of uneven and combined development, we argue that Permanent Revolution constitutes its necessary culmination, as well as Trotsky’s most significant contribution to classical Marxism. We then elucidate how, writing in the first half of the 20th century and applying his theory of Permanent Revolution, Trotsky was able to diagnose certain essential lines of political development – the rise and ongoing breakdown of American hegemony, the political degeneration and collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence and failure of the postcolonial independent nation states – tracing the long and crisis-ridden trajectory of international relations from the second half of the 20th century down to today.
Femonationalism, that is, the use of women’s rights rhetorics to further racial stigmatisation and promote nationalism, has been of growing interest to social scientists on European contexts. While previous studies have provided insights on the racialisation of sexism in gender equality policymaking, there is still a limited understanding of how policy frames in particular national contexts can either exacerbate or mitigate femonationalism in the making of anti-gender-based violence policy. In particular, how do frames on race and racism impact the framing of anti-street harassment policies and, by extension, the ability to prevent femonationalism?
The article explores this issue by comparing the cases of France and Britain through empirical data with policymakers and activists intervening in policymaking against street harassment in France and Britain. Findings suggest that, even though French state actors claim their colour-blindness allows them to avoid a racist framing of the problem, it actually enables it. This in turn favours a racialised framing of street harassment and leads to an inability to address the potential risk of racial targeting in the criminalisation of street harassment. Conversely, the acknowledgment of racism in Britain favours an intersectional framing of street harassment and leads to greater consideration of the risk of racial targeting. By analysing how race repertoires unfold in policy pre-adoption phases, the article therefore suggests that nationally embedded assumptions about race have a significant impact on the framing of anti-gender-based violence policy and, in turn, on femonationalism.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many leaders claimed that their public health policy decisions were ‘following the science’; however, the literature on evidence-based policy problematises the idea that this is a realistic or desirable form of governance. This article examines why leaders make such claims using blame avoidance theory. Based on a qualitative content analysis of two national newspapers in each of Australia, Canada and the UK, we gathered and focused on unique moments when leaders claimed to ‘follow the science’ in the first six months of the pandemic. We applied Hood’s theory to identify the types of blame avoidance strategies used for issues such as mass event cancellation, border closures, face masks, and in-person learning. Politicians most commonly used ‘follow the science’ to deflect blame onto processes and people. When leaders’ claims to ‘follow the science’ confuse the public as to who chooses and who should be held accountable for those decisions, this slogan risks undermining trust in science, scientific advisors, and, at its most extreme, representative government. This article addresses a gap in the literature on blame avoidance and the relationship between scientific evidence and public policy by demonstrating how governments’ claims to ‘follow the science’ mitigated blame by abdicating responsibility, thus risking undermining the use of scientific advice in policymaking.
This study examines the articulation of anti-gender politics in the parliamentary debates centred on two citizens’ initiatives in Finland and Romania. Although different in their endeavours (in Finland, supporting equal marriage rights; in Romania, attempting to legislate pre-emptively against them), these citizens’ initiatives resulted in significant defeats for the wider anti-gender campaigns in these countries. Examining closely the parliamentary debates ensuing these proposals, we evidence how anti-gender politics developed in ways specific to each examined polity and served as a key vehicle for different manners of retrogressive mobilisation, which bypassed left–right ideological cleavages and party loyalty. We scrutinise critically the discursive scenarios that coalesce in anti-gender politics in the two countries, and we map out both the commonalities and differences between the antithetic narrative scenarios, which hinge on the position of the child within a heteronormative nuclear family and the depiction of marriage equality as a harbinger of an impending societal collapse.
A popular explanation for governments’ persistent enthusiasm for evidence-based policymaking (EBPM) is its expected capacity to solve policy conflict. However, research is divided on whether or not EBPM actually has a positive impact on conflict. On the one hand, EBPM is said to introduce a set of principles that helps overcome political differences. Simultaneously, EBPM has been criticised for narrowing the space for democratic debate, fuelling the very conflict it is trying to prevent. This article explores how EBPM structures policy conflict by studying the example of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) in policy processes through reconstructive interviews and ethnographic observations. It argues that, although EBPM channels conflict in a way that prompts engagement from stakeholders, it also escalates conflict by misrepresenting the nature of policy processes. As such, the findings suggest that managing process participants’ expectations about what evidence is and can do is key in fostering productive policy conflict.
To achieve the dual goals of minimising global pollution and meeting diverse demands for environmental justice, energy transitions need to involve not only a shift to renewable energy sources but also the safe decommissioning of older energy infrastructures and management of their toxic legacies. While the global scale of the decommissioning challenge is yet to be accurately quantified, the climate impacts are significant: each year, more than an estimated 29 million abandoned oil and gas wells around the world emit 2.5 million tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In the US alone, at least 14 million people live within a mile of an abandoned oil or gas well, creating pollution that is concentrated among low-income areas and communities of colour. The costs involved in decommissioning projects are significant, raising urgent questions about responsibility and whether companies who have profited from the sale of extracted resources will be held liable for clean-up, remediation and management costs. Recognising these political goals and policy challenges, this article invites further research, scrutiny and debate on what would constitute the successful and safe decommissioning of sites affected by fossil fuel operations – with a particular focus on accountability, environmental inequality, the temporality of energy transitions, and strategies for phasing out or phasing down fossil fuel extraction.
Development and Marxism are both discourses with a complex and not-always-consistent genealogy. This article seeks to (re)set the dialogue between them through a process of deconstruction. It shows the substantial shift in the position of Karl Marx from a somewhat evolutionist conception of development to one that aligns more with our understanding of combined and uneven development. It outlines Lenin’s epistemological break from an orthodox or evolutionist view of development to a view of the global economy via the hinge of ‘imperialism’. This ushers in a new view of capitalism as non-homogeneous rather than one where part of the world develops and another ‘underdevelops’. Finally, we offer some thoughts on development in the era of globalisation that, to some extent, confirms Marx’s original intuition that capitalism would come to spread across the world.
In this policy intervention, we recount the process of producing a policy briefing targeting researchers and practitioners who use drones in biodiversity conservation. We use the writing process as a springboard to think through the ways that interdisciplinary exchange has and might further inform the ethical use of new technologies, such as drones. This approach is vital, we argue, because while drones may be deployed as tools that enable or empower forest, wildlife or habitat monitoring practices, so too can they be variously disruptive, repurposed and/or exceed these applications in significant ways. From questions of surveillance and capture, data ownership and security, to noise disruption, drone use requires careful and critical reflection, particularly in sensitive contexts. Yet, interdisciplinary exchange attentive to the ethical, social and experiential dimensions of drone use remains patchy and thin. To this end, this intervention reflects on the process of a group of scholars from ecological, environmental and social science backgrounds coming together in an interdisciplinary project grappling with diverse issues around responsible conservation drone use. After recounting our methodology, including the surprises and learning that emerged in practice, we contextualise the key themes we chose to foreground in our published policy briefing. We conclude by connecting our collaboration with wider actions and energies in the context of existing (conservation) drone policy and practice, while underscoring our contributions to existing work.