Seminar Abstracts

Ecological Modernisation and Climate Change Strategies Dr David Toke, University of Birmingham

The implications of studies of ecological modernisation and renewable energy are assessed for the wider issue of climate change. Ecological modernisation as propounded by Mol and others involves industry making key technological choices to 'green' business. Yet in the case of renewable energy the 'industry' was first invented by a social movement and even today is sustained as an industry with a separate identity  to that of other energy industries. The incentives that are needed to promote continued development of renewable energy are dependent on maintaining a coalition of public support focused on positive public identification with technologies such as wind power and solar power. It seems likely that a similar relationship is needed for a wider strategy aimed at countering climate change with technical remedies being supported through public pressure and indentity with such solutions. Mechanisms through which this may be achieved will be discussed.

Dr David Toke is Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy at the Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham. In just 12 years he has published approaching 40 papers in refereed journals and three research monographs, the most recent of which is 'Ecological Modernisation and Renewable Energy' published by Palgrave earlier this year. He has been active in public campaigns on green energy topics and was a prime mover in putting feed-in tariffs on the agenda which led to the adoption of the UK programme of feed-in tariffs for small renewable projects in 2008.

State Imaginaries Shaping UK Innovation Priorities for Bioenergy Dr Les Levidow, Open University

Over the past decade, UK policy has given ‘sustainable bioenergy’ an increasingly important role, most recently for reducing GHG emissions, expanding renewable energy and moving towards a low-carbon economy.  To achieve this much will depend on policy incentives stimulating bioenergy, according to government policy.   Bioenergy has been promoted also for many other goals, e.g. energy security, environmental protection, economic advantage, waste management, etc.  Technoscientific innovation is foreseen as enhancing all those benefits of bioenergy.   
How do state actors justify specific pathways of bioenergy innovation?   Their promotional roles can be analysed through the analytical concept ‘imaginary’ – a strategic discourse promoting a feasible, desirable future.  The talk will analyse three sociotechnical imaginaries for ‘sustainable bioenergy’ futures in the UK: relocalisation via bio-recycling, agri-diversification and oil substitution.  These imaginaries are linked with specific innovation pathways – e.g. combined heat and power (CHP), anaerobic digestion, perennial energy crops and second-generation biofuels.   In such ways, UK state actors promote R&D policies and mobilise resources for specific innovation priorities. 

Dr Les Levidow is a Senior Research Fellow at the Open University, UK, where he has been studying agri-food-energy innovation as environmental-development issues since the 1980s.  He is co-author of Governing the Transatlantic Conflict over Agricultural Biotechnology: Contending Coalitions, Trade Liberalisation and Standard Setting (Routledge, 2006) and of GM Food on Trial: Testing European Democracy (Routledge, 2010).  During 2008-2010 he coordinated an FP7 project entitled ‘Cooperative Research on Environmental Problems in Europe’ (CREPE), focusing on divergent pathways towards a knowledge-based bio-economy, and was a partner in another project, ‘Facilitating Alternative Agri-Food Networks’ (FAAN).  He is also Editor of the journal Science as Culture.

Embodied Identities: Perspectives on Sport and Race - Professor John Nauright, George Mason University, USA 

In this paper we move beyond political and historiographical perspectives of race and sport to focus on racialized and sporting bodies. Though this case focuses on South Africa where racialized bodies have been central elements in defining difference, there are many international parallels and a multitude of case study examples that could be added to our analysis.
Social historians and sociologists have collectively written thousands of volumes about sport over the last three decades. While much of their work has been critical, exploring social relations of power, inequality and oppression, they have said little by comparison about bodies. This omission contains a double paradox. First, by definition sport is a corporeal practice, and second, power, inequality and oppression are embodied. Thus, the paper examines how sport has been, and is, a site where inequality and oppression are reproduced.

Creating Opportunities for International Student Experiences seminar - Professor John Nauright, George Mason University, USA 

This presentation explores past, present and future ways of engaging students globally through a discussion of a range of approaches I have used in my career, particularly how we approach global student engagement in the Academy of International Sport and in the Center for Global and International Initiatives at George Mason University in the USA. These opportunities include study abroad, exchanges, off-site programs, on-line and new technology driven programs, formal and informal programs on campus, internships and strategic partnerships.

The regulatory and welfare states: parallel or integrated? - Dr Anneliese Dodds, Aston University

There are analyses of ‘races to the bottom’ in both the welfare and regulation literatures, and lively debate in both about whether new risks (to family income and population health, respectively) have resulted from heightened population expectations of government responsibility, or a failure of (welfare or regulatory) policy to keep pace. Yet elsewhere there is little crossover, despite the fact that both literatures cover similar topics and would benefit from closer alignment. First, traditional distinctions between regulation and (re)distribution are increasingly untenable. Regulatory decisions often have (re)distributive consequences, even if these are restricted to transfers within different economic groups, rather than across them as in some welfare states. Social policy perspectives could help explain such distributional processes. Secondly, theories of regulatory co-production and regulated self-regulation could learn from analyses of governments’ interactions with trade unions, employers and insurers to ‘produce’ welfare - and vice-versa. Recent interventions by the EU to (for example) regulate insurance provision have merely shifted such activity to the intergovernmental realm, rather than representing a new approach to welfare. Thirdly, mutual learning could occur in relation to standard setting and enforcement. Welfare state theorists have highlighted that welfare regulations are often not applied (with certain groups being excluded from ‘universal’ provision), or applied to persecute rather than protect certain groups. These processes may be formalised or operate informally through (for example) failure to inform specific types of people of their entitlements. However, this work is generally theoretically underdeveloped and would benefit from being informed by regulatory analyses.

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