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The Politics of Estonia's Offshore Wind Energy Programme: Discourse, power and marine spatial planning
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2264-6892
University of Essex, UK.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6448-0379
De Montfort University, UK.
2019 (English)In: Environment and Planning. C, Government and Policy, ISSN 0263-774X, E-ISSN 1472-3425, Vol. 37, no 1, p. 157-176Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is growing recognition that marine spatial planning is an inherently political process marked by a clash of discourses, power and conflicts of interest. Yet, there are very few attempts to make sense of and explain the political practices of marine spatial planning protests in different contexts, especially the way that planners and developers create the conditions for the articulation of objections, and then develop new strategies to negotiate and mediate community resistance. Using poststructuralist discourse theory, the article analyses the politics of a proposed offshore wind energy project in Estonia within the context of the country’s marine spatial planning processes. First, through the lens of politicization, it explores the strategies of political mobilization and the rival discourses of expertise and sustainability through which residents and municipal actors have contested the offshore wind energy project. Secondly, through the lens of depoliticization, it explains the discursive and legalistic strategies employed by developers, planners and an Administrative Court to displace – spatially and temporally – the core issues of contestation, thus legitimizing the offshore wind energy plan. We argue that the spaces created by the preplanning conjuncture offered the most conducive conditions for residents to voice concerns about the proposed project in a dialogical fashion, whereas the marine spatial planning and post-planning phases became mired in a therapeutic-style consultation, set alongside rigid and unreflexive interpretations and applications of legality. We conclude by setting out the limits of the Estonian marine spatial planning as a process for resolving conflicts, while offering an alternative model of handling such public controversies, which we call pragmatic adversarialism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 37, no 1, p. 157-176
Keywords [en]
Marine spatial planning, politicization and depoliticization, discourse theory and power, offshore wind energy conflict, discourses and resistance strategies
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34961DOI: 10.1177/2399654418778037ISI: 000458856000008Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85047821963Local ID: 2186/3.1.1/2014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-34961DiVA, id: diva2:1205840
Projects
BaltSpace
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2186/3.1.1/2014BONUS - Science for a better future of the Baltic Sea regionSwedish Research Council FormasAvailable from: 2018-05-15 Created: 2018-05-15 Last updated: 2019-04-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The “Dark Side” of Marine Spatial Planning: A study of domination, empowerment and freedom through theories of discourse and power
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The “Dark Side” of Marine Spatial Planning: A study of domination, empowerment and freedom through theories of discourse and power
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to contribute to the marine spatial planning (MSP) literature by elaborating a robust theoretical account of power for a more rigorous and balanced critical analysis of MSP. Conceived as a problem-solving regime, MSP has emerged as a radical approach to govern the use and protection of marine resources. However, critics are questioning the radicalness of MSP, particularly its ability to address issues around knowledge, stakeholder and land-sea integration, as well as power asymmetry, distributive justice and equity. Nonetheless, critics largely conceive power in MSP as restricting agency. Even so, insidious mechanisms of power remain under-examined, as are the productive power and potential of planning. This thesis brings concepts from discourse and power theories together (drawing on Foucault, Laclau and Mouffe, and Haugaard) to conceptualize various mechanisms of power in MSP. The framework is then brought into dialogue with planning issues in Estonia and Poland. Empirical data are drawn from semi-structured interviews, legal judgments, planning and policy documents, as well as position papers and media statements, which are produced by planners, officials, developers, fishers and coastal residents. The following findings and conclusions are reached. First, MSP’ing (verb form) restricts agency because (a) in planning encounters, powerful actors misuse opportunities for concerted action to reach sectoral rather than collective goals; (b) in setting the agenda, various biases are mobilized in favor of vested interests; and (c) the fantasmatic power of planning conjoin with the planner’s cognitive limitation to naturalize and sustain subjugation. Second, MSP is a laudable system. It provides stakeholders with the dispositional power to get things done in concert, which entails a normatively felicitous move from the risks of open commons-type conflicts and chaos to structuring and predictability. Third, when planning is rigidly done within the confines of legality and programmatic norms, “free” subjects of planning may be transformed into immovable subjects of resistance, who may develop contestatory strategies that have transformatory potentials. Fourth, to both facilitate equitable planning processes and outcomes, and ensure efficiency and stability, not only must the planner be reflective of the norms and ideologies that shape her actions and/or inactions, but the state as the ultimate governing authority in MSP must also take measures to minimize asymmetries in the distribution of social resources. The thesis makes a call for scholars to contribute towards planning praxis through analyzing who the weakest actors are in each MSP setting, what their context-specific needs are, and what empowerment may entail for them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2019. p. 180
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 164
Keywords
marine spatial planning; discourse; power; domination; empowerment; freedom; conflict; resistance; small-scale fisheries; offshore wind energy
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-38051 (URN)2186/3.1.1/2014 (Local ID)978-91-88663-67-2 (ISBN)978-91-88663-68-9 (ISBN)2186/3.1.1/2014 (Archive number)2186/3.1.1/2014 (OAI)
Public defence
2019-05-29, MA624, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
BaltSpace
Available from: 2019-05-08 Created: 2019-04-25 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved

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tafon et al. 2018(669 kB)87 downloads
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Tafon, Ralph Voma

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