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Policy responses to environmentalism in liberal democratic political systems : a case study of ecologically sustainable development in Australia


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McCall, TJ 2001 , 'Policy responses to environmentalism in liberal democratic political systems : a case study of ecologically sustainable development in Australia', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Policy Responses to Environmentalism in Liberal Democratic
Political Systems: A Case Study of Ecologically Sustainable
Development in Australia
Liberal democratic political systems faced numerous political
challenges in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the most significant was the
increasing attention to the environment, and the concomitant rise of
environmentalism as a social and political force. Environmentalism
posed an unique challenge through its questioning of one of the
fundamental paradigms of the liberal economic state - a commitment
to growth. This thesis focuses on how the Australian liberal
democratic systems responded to the political challenge posed by
environmentalism through a case study of the Ecologically Sustainable
Development (ESD) process.
This thesis argues that this process was framed by a series of
legitimating tasks: the need to secure economic stability and growth;
the need to maintain order and the need to 'stay afloat' in the global
economy. These tasks provide a series of structural imperatives that
shape and constrain the policy responses to environmentalism. At the
same time the state faced an increasingly complex and uncertain
policy environment, with demands for a more open, participatory
policy process. These elements provide competing ideas and values
within the environmental policy process, identified as competing
This thesis utilises an analytic framework drawn from discourse
analyses of the ESD process, with a particular emphasis on the
manufacturing sector. The thesis examines the ESD process in
Australia, and the establishment of sectoral specific working groups
such as that focusing on manufacturing. It is within the sectoral
working groups that alternative discourses over ESD were articulated.
Analysis of the ESD process in general, and within the manufacturing
sectoral working group in particular, provides the opportunity to
examine how significant environmental challenges were identified and
An examination of the competing discourses within the ESD
process, both in general and in the specific case as applied to the
manufacturing sector, provides a key to the successful
institutionalisation of environmental conflict. Utilising post-positivist
discourse analysis identifies the complexities in this process
sometimes subsumed as incorporation or cooptation. This analysis
identifies the key elements of competing discourses, the influence
these discourses have on policy outcomes, and how these outcomes in
turn help to frame ongoing policy responses, and help reinforce the
legitimating tasks of government.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:McCall, TJ
Keywords: Sustainable development, Environmental protection, Environmental policy
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2001 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

For consultation only. No loan or photocopying permitted until 26/01/2003. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2001. Includes bibliographical references

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