Silencing Agency in Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) by Essentializing a Neoliberal ‘Monster’ Into Being: A Response to Fletcher & Büscher's ‘PES Conceit’

Gert Van Hecken, Vijay Kolinjivadi, Catherine Windey, Pamela McElwee, Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Frédéric Huybrechs, Johan Bastiaensen

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this commentary we respond to Fletcher and Büscher's (2017) recent article in this journal on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as neoliberal ‘conceit’. The authors claim that focusing attention on the micro-politics of PES design and implementation fails to expose an underlying neoliberal governmentality, and therefore only reinforces neoliberal capitalism as both the problem and solution of ecological crises. In response, we argue that a focus on the actions of local actors is key to understanding how and why such governmentality fails or succeeds in performing as theorized. Grand generalizations fixated on a particular hegemonic and neoliberal PES ontology overlook how actors intertwine theory and practice in ways which cannot be explained by a dominant structural theory. Such generalizations risk obscuring the complexity and situational history, practice and scale of the processes involved. Rather than relegating variegated and hybrid forms of what actually emerges from PES interventions as neoliberal conceit, we argue that an actor-oriented, ‘weak theory’ approach permits PES praxis to inform knowledge generation. This would open up a more inclusive and politically engaging space for thinking about and realizing political change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-318
Number of pages5
JournalEcological Economics
Volume144
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics

Keywords

  • Actor-oriented approach
  • Conservation
  • Governmentality
  • Neoliberalism
  • Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)
  • Performativity
  • Weak theory

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