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Accepted Paper:

From enabling state to enabling everybody? Enabling governance Practices as strategy for urban sustainability transformations  
Britta Acksel (Wuppertal Institute for Environment, Climate, and Energy)

Paper short abstract:

Not only do state institutions govern by enabling others, by activating and facilitating (changed) behavior and actions of citizens, companies, consumers. I show how a diverse set of actors work towards enabling others, including state institutions.

Paper long abstract:

As the successor of the welfare state, the enabling state became increasingly popular in research, politics, and consulting. For some, it is a guiding principle and desirable paradigm, for others a cornerstone of neoliberal critique and some use it in a merely descriptive sense. The dominant feature these different usages have in common is that the enabling state describes a change in policy orientation that can be summarized under privatization and individualization of responsibility. Tasks that for quite some time were seen as belonging to state institutions are actively assigned to non-state actors via an enabling of these actors.

My ethnographic research focusing on sustainability transformations of three European post-industrial cities shows that not only do state institutions work towards their goals by aiming to enable others, but that this mode of governance has spread. Through the concept of enabling governance practices, I analyzed how different actors, among them local initiatives, NGOs in Brussels, international city networks, or local and EU-European administration, work towards the proposed goal of sustainability transformation in/of cities by enabling others, including state institutions. In light of current challenges, a diverse set of actors try to enable themselves by enabling others.

Based on ethnographic data collected in Malmö (SWE), Essen (GER), Almada (PRT), Brussels (BEG), and beyond I will demonstrate different ways enabling is being done and discuss what this means for current sustainability efforts, transformations of statecraft and how this relates to commons and practices of commoning.

Panel P067c
Grassroots states: Transformations of statecraft III
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -