Governing Environmental Flows
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Governing Environmental Flows

Global Challenges to Social Theory

Edited by Gert Spaargaren, Arthur P.J. Mol and Frederick H Buttel





Globalization and the changing role of the nation-state calls for new approaches to environmental governance and new ways to conceptualize it. Recent developments in sociology—seen in the work of John Urry, Manuel Castells, and others—shows how social theory can be made less static, more fluid, and more directed toward flow and networks in order to encompass today's reality. Governing Environmental Flows explores what such a reformulation means for the environmental social sciences. Taking the term environmental flows—in both its traditional scientific sense and in a newer social dimension—as its key unit of analysis, the book focuses on the interrelationships of globalization, the environment, and the state. The consensus of the contributors is that the conventional nation-state-based approach to environmental policy is in need of revision; the goal of the book is to lay the foundations for a set of concepts capable of analyzing environmental governance in global modernity.

The first part of the book takes a theoretical perspective on how to interpret and conceptualize problems of governance and material flows. Case studies follow, examining biodiversity policies, transnational governance of climate-change-related water risks, globalized food production and consumption, "green" urban office buildings owned by global corporations, and transport flows in everyday life. Using the flow and network conceptual framework, these case studies illuminate the new dynamics of environmental policymaking in the twenty-first century.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262195454 392 pp. | 9 in x 6 in 21 illus.


$6.75 S ISBN: 9780262693356 392 pp. | 9 in x 6 in 21 illus.


Gert Spaargaren

Gert Spaargaren is Professor of Environmental Policy of Sustainable Lifestyles and Consumption in the Department of Social Sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Arthur P.J. Mol

Frederick H Buttel

The late Frederick H. Buttel was Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


  • The editors draw on a provocative and innovative strands of social theorizing and seek to adapt it to the study of environmental concerns. The resulting volume promises to build a far-reaching transdisciplinary agenda.

    John M. Meyer

    Department of Government and Politics, Humboldt State University

  • This is an unusually interesting approach to a subject that receives too little attention and a notable account of a largely undisclosed history. It will be a very significant contribution to the field.

    Michael Redclift

    King's College London

  • Twelve authors from seven countries and four continents—this is true international scholarship. Which is precisely the point: The concept of environmental flows challenges us to appreciate the fluidity of life on this planet, a fluidity that crisscrosses the boundaries we humans try to construct. A vital work.

    Michael Bell

    Department of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison