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The Politics of the Anthropocene$
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John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198809616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198809616.001.0001

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Governance in the Holocene

Governance in the Holocene

Chapter:
(p.20) 2 Governance in the Holocene
Source:
The Politics of the Anthropocene
Author(s):

John S. Dryzek

Jonathan Pickering

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198809616.003.0002

In the late Holocene, humans and their social institutions came to endanger their planetary comfort zone. Holocene institutions have had their successes when it comes to economic prosperity and even (recently) limiting violent conflict. But change that could enable governance to grapple with Anthropocene conditions is blocked where it is most needed. Dominant institutions such as states and markets have found ways to organize feedback that confirms their own necessity. Financial institutions become “too big to fail,” capitalist markets punish governments that depart from neoliberal economic recipes, and global environmental negotiations absorb the energy of activists and civil society even when they are not producing much decisive action. At the same time governance fails to take signals from a changing Earth system seriously enough—let alone anticipate future crises. As a result, institutional and policy innovation is blocked, and dysfunctional institutions and practices constitute highly problematic—even pathological—path dependency.

Keywords:   Holocene institutions, path dependency, environmental governance, capitalism, states, adaptive governance

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