Analyzing the “Distinctive Characteristics” of the Chinese Environmental Non- Governmental Organizations [ENOGs] through the Framework of Michael Foucault’s Governmentality

Description
Title: Analyzing the “Distinctive Characteristics” of the Chinese Environmental Non- Governmental Organizations [ENOGs] through the Framework of Michael Foucault’s Governmentality
Authors: Ji, Tuo (Janet)
Date: 2013-07-11
Abstract: The roles of China’s environmental non-governmental organizations [ENGOs] have attracted heated scholarly debates. On one hand, China has experienced a rapid growth of ENGOs since 1990s; on the other hand, many ENGOs tend to possess “distinctive characteristics” compared to their western counterparts. The “distinctive characteristics” of the ENGOs is the subject of inquiry in this research paper. I ask the following questions: why do the ENGOs and why does the Chinese government behave the way they do? How is power exercised and what is the logic of governance in between the state and the ENGOs? Employing Foucault’s governmentality framework, I focus on the relationship between the ENGOs and the government. My goal is to identify the mentality of governance on part of the two parties. I argue for the following thesis: due to the conditions the Chinese government set for the ENGOs, the ENGOs organize themselves as non-antagonistic subjects of governance which help to realize their long-term objectives: to influence government policy and to set themselves up as platforms for producing more environmentally conscious and self-disciplined citizens. This paper includes the following sections. It begins with some discussion of Michel Foucault’s governmentality framework and its strengths in comparison to other theoretical frameworks. Basic information of the Chinese ENGOs, such as their numbers, types, activities, and international connections is then provided. The Chinese government delegates some environmental governance functions to the ENGOs and the general public, and in the meantime it manages the ENGOs. Given this situation, the ENGOs position themselves in environmental governance with their “distinctive characteristics,” a softer approach to deal with the government. This, in turn, serves to fulfill the governance rationality of the Chinese ENGOS: to ensure their own survival, to influence policy and to educate the citizens on environmental governance. This mentality or logic of governance on the part of the ENGOs will be illustrated by two case studies, Friends of Nature, the largest and first ENGO in China and the Nu River campaign, a widely cited case study of the Chinese ENGO. Policy relevance will be discussed in the conclusion part of this paper.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24317
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers
Files