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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Harriet Bulkeley

Bulkeley, H. (2001). Governing climate change: the politics of risk society? Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 26(4): 430-447.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper examines how the politics of climate change have taken shape within Australia through the construction and contestation of concepts of obligation and responsibility. Beck's risk society thesis offers a conceptual starting point from which to address questions concerning the nature of contemporary risk politics, and the paper examines its relevance and applicability in this case. While Beck's theory provides insight into the nature of risk and directs attention to the ways in which notions of obligation and responsibility structure risk politics, it fails to engage with why, and how, particular definitions of risk and responsibility come to dominate the political arena. It is argued that in Australia the novel challenges climate change poses to the institutions of modernity have been negated through ensuing policy responses which have reinforced links between industry and government, and have defined climate responsibilities within existing relations of production and the spatio-temporal frameworks of modernity.


Published on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers).