Theory critique: Green Governmentality

green governmentality

This is the fifth of a series of theoretical critiques I am doing on entries in the volume, Companion to Environmental Studies (Castree et. al. 2018). The entry called Green governmentally (section 2.12) was written by Stephanie Rutherford.


Rutherford reviews the term green governmentality (also: eco-governmentality, environmentality) that emerged in the 1990-2000s after Foucault’s neologism “governmentality” which conceptualized the rationality or art of government (Foucault 1976).

Application to framework

This is a key reference only so far as I note that I am aware of this more obvious application of the term to environmental affairs (a greened governmentality) even as I choose to work with the more neutral/original concept.

I neither take environment as an a prioricategory/site for constructed meanings (a common weakness of environmental thought) nor as a constructed set of practices (a weakness of ideal/constructivist-leaning theoretical types, of which I can’t quite decide where Foucault lands…), but rather will investigate a specific situated context (land succession) which is not as clearly “green” as something like climate (Rutherford’s given example). Greening my topic would be argumentatively awkward, and against my principles.