The post-political nature of marine spatial planning and modalities for its re-politicisation

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Marine spatial planning (MSP) has become the most adopted approach for sustainable marine governance. While MSP has transformative capacity, evaluations of its implementation illustrate large gaps between how it is conceptualised and how it is practiced. We argue that these gaps arise from MSP being implemented through post-political processes. Although MSP has been explored through post-political lenses, these evaluations are incomplete and do not provide sufficient detail about the complex nature of the post-political condition. Drawing on seminal literature, we conceptualise the post-political as consisting of highly interconnected modalities of depoliticisation, including: neoliberalism; choreographed participation; path dependency; technocratic-managerialism; and the illusion of progressive change. Using these modalities as an analytical framework, we evaluate English MSP and find that it focuses on entrenching neoliberal logic through: tokenistic participation; wholescale adoption of path-dependent solutions; obstructionist deployment of inactive technological solutions; and promising progressive change. We do not, however, view the post-political condition as unresolvable and we develop a suite of suggestions for the re-politicisation of MSP which, collectively, could form the basis for more radical forms of MSP.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2019

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