Discourses and meanings of ‘the environment’

Authored by: Timothy W. Luke

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138894808
eBook ISBN: 9781315179780
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the many different meanings given to ‘the environment’ in scientific, technological, policy, and cultural discourses. The environment is identified by many as a definitive foundational concept because it underpins the regimes of truth, systems of power or orders of knowledge for a vast range of human activity. For environmental planning, the spaces of movement mastered by science, government and commerce in natural and artificial settings generate many environments and the planning for human actions within them. This section highlights the contested natures of both natural and artificial settings in environmental discourse. By identifying four major currents of discussion in planning and policy discourses, namely, the discursive interplay of ‘reification’ and ‘revitalization’, ‘resourcification’ and ‘regulation’, ‘rationalization’ and ‘restoration’ as well as ‘ruination’ and ‘resilience’, the analysis highlights how the plans and projects of environmental planning develop discourses for different currents of thought to manage nature and society.

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