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Accepted Paper:

Greenwork, environmental society, and technologies of environmental care  
Matthew Eisler (University of Strathclyde)

Short abstract:

This paper introduces the concept of greenwork, defined as the material practices and social relations of environmental society, a landscape of ubiquitous environmental regulation and governance shaped by the disconnect between environmental science and marketized energy and environmental policies.

Long abstract:

Over the last 30 years, observed the historian Etienne Benson, environmental regulation intensified, touching every facet of life so that by the early 2020s nearly everyone in US society could be considered an environmentalist, whether willing or unwilling (Benson 2020). This intriguing proposition assumes major social change, yet relatively little is known of how enviro-regulations co-produce labor, business, and consumer practices and the material substrata of a society of environmentalists. We could refer to these practices collectively as greenwork and the society that gives rise to them and is co-constructed out of them as environmental society.

This paper outlines a project exploring regulatory, labor, business, and consumer greenwork in contemporary environmental society. Greenwork will be importantly conditioned by the disconnect between environmental science and marketized energy and environmental policies. Green discourse models society as an ecosystem, and while other forms of biological essentialism align with and reinforce the capitalist social order, with its ontology of morally acceptable imbalance, implementing the energy/materials ecosystem faces serious practical challenges. The costs and complexities of closing the circle of the energy/materials conversion chain have led policymakers to focus on particular infrastructural arcs of the notional closed circle and signify the idealized objects in these precincts as technologies of environmental care worthy of public support. These objects constitute the clean technology that capital can see (a variation of the idea of the nature that capital can see, deployed by Robertson in a critique of ecosystems services; 2006).

Traditional Open Panel P255
Making and doing industrial decarbonisation: firms, employees and the world beyond the factory fence.
  Session 1