TRANSFORMING COMMODIFICATION: SUSTAINABILITY AND THE REGULATION OF PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION NETWORKS by Noah Quastel A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinThe Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies(Geography) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)October 2014 © Noah Quastel, 2014 Abstract This thesis analyzes the emergence in the 1990s and 2000s of novel forms of ‘green goods’ or ‘sustainable commodities’. Particular goods come in many forms and include fair trade coffee, certified wood, ethical investment funds, or higher density housing. They represent examples of how sustainability has emerged as a paradigm for the regulation of production and consumption networks. The thesis provides a survey of geographical and interdisciplinary work in commodity studies and suggests sustainable commodities challenges traditional geographical theories of commodification and commodity regulation. The thesis offers a survey of theories of regulation that can apply to global and local production and consumption networks and suggests the use of Strategic Relational Cultural Political Economy as a theory of regulation. The thesis includes four case studies that vary as to type of commodity and type of regulation. The first considers one of the first global certification systems -- the dolphin-safe label for tuna and which linked Thailand to California. The second concerns corporate social responsibility in foreign direct investment in bauxite (a core component in aluminum), linking a Montreal based aluminum company to mine sites in Orissa, India. The third case study concerns a domestic commodity under traditional state regulation -- that of inner city housing under urban sustainability and Smart Growth zoning initiatives in Vancouver, Canada. The fourth case study also considers housing in Vancouver but concerns the relationship between housing, neighbourhood change and rezoning initiatives outside of the urban core. The thesis concludes by showing how the case studies show the applicability of Strategic Relational Cultural Political Economy: Each study indicates a way in which environmental policies and sustainability contribute to a spatio-temporal and institutional fix for a production and consumption network.In each of the case studies, the expansion of capitalist processes involved a contradictory and conflict laden relationship with extra-economic, non-capitalist social and environmental processes. While this created societal pushback, the result was a process of negotiation and compromise which modestly incorporated civil society concern but was also protective of existing economic processes and firm market position.iiPreface This thesis consists of the development of theories and methodologies for understanding production and consumption networks at different scales --urban and global -- and their transformations through environmental policy frameworks such as sustainability. The identification of relevant theory and case studies was done by the author. The thesis compromises 8 chapters. All but two chapters are solely researched and written by the author. Four of the chapters have previously been published. They are included without alteration, save for a few explanatory footnotes that are self-evident. They comprise chapters 4 through 7 in the following order. The titles of the publications have been retained.Chapter 4. (2011) Dolphin-Safe from California to Thailand: Localisms in the Environmental Certification of Commodity Networks, Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 101(2)337-355 (with Ian G. Baird). It appears pursuant to Taylor & Francis Group copyright policy. It is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, published online February 15, 2011 and available online at www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/00045608.2010.544965Chapter 5 (2011). ‘This is a Montreal Issue’: Negotiating Responsibility in Global Production and Investment Networks.Geoforum 42 (2011) 451–461. It appears pursuant Elsevier policy that accepted author manuscripts and final publications may be used in a thesis.Chapter 6. (2009) Political Ecologies of Gentrification. Urban Geography 30 (7) 694-725. It appears pursuant to Taylor & Francis Group copyright policy. It is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Urban Geography published online May 16, 2013 and available online at www.tandfonline.com/10.2747/0272-36220.127.116.114iiiChapter 7 (2012). Sustainability as Density and the Return of the Social: Case Study of Vancouver, Canada. Urban Geography 33 (7), 1055-1084 (with Markus Moos and Nicholas Lynch). It appears pursuant to Taylor & Francis Group copyright policy. It is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Urban Geography published online May 16, 2013, and available online at www.tandfonline.com/10.2747/0272-3618.104.22.1685 Chapter 4 (“Dolphin-Safe Tuna”) was the result of extensive dialogue with Ian G. Baird who provides a first person account of the dolphin-safe certification system. I provided the theoretical framing and contextualization in broader geographic literature, legal research, and updating on the political and legal events around the dolphin-safe label in the United States context. Ian G. Baird provided personal recollection based on his participation as an employee and knowledge of the tuna fisheries and Thai context. Chapter 5 was began as a legal research program for Amnesty International Canada’s Business and Human Rights subsection, in conjunction with the Quebec based religious ethical fund Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des enterprises. All empirical research was based on secondary sources and no confidentialities were breached. Chapter 6, figure 6.4 appears courtesy of Pion, publisher of Environment and Planning A where the figure was first published. Figure 6. 7 (Density map of the City of Vancouver) was prepared by Eric Leinberger for the author on the recommendation and with financial aid supplied by the editors of Urban Geography. Figure 6. 8. False Creek squatter’s boat is used with an attribution as required by attribution only copyright. Chapter 7 (“Sustainability as Density”) is structured as a mixed method investigation. This initial idea arose through dialogue with Markus Moos concerning the potential to use quantitative statistics in urban political ecology research. I provided the theoretical framing and contextualization for the piece, the history and context of urban sustainability policy, Vancouver’s planning context and history, interviews, and the case study of Norquay Village. As such, Markus Moos’s contribution was that of providing the statistical analysis and accompanying graphs and maps (pp. 1061 to 1066). That includes Figures 7.1 to 7.4 and Tables iv7.1 and 7.2 Nicholas Lynch’s contribution was that of the cultural analysis of walkability (pp. 1066 to 1069). Markus Moos also helped with edited, although the final edits were my own. Research for Chapter 7 included interviews. These were covered by UBC Ethics Certificate H10-03371. vTable of Contents ...........................................................................................................................................Abstract ii...........................................................................................................................................Preface iii ............................................................................................................................Table of Contents vi...................................................................................................................................List of Tables x................................................................................................................................List of Figures xi.........................................................................................................................Acknowledgments xii.................................................................................................................................1. Introduction 1..........................................................................................1. 1. Introduction to the Thesis 1.........................................................................1.2. Why Study Sustainable Commodities 9...............................................1.3 Situating the Case Studies and Chapters of the Thesis 13..................................................................................1.3.1 Certification and Tuna 15.............................................................1.3.2 Business Sustainability and Bauxite 16...............................................1.3.3 Sustainability Planning and Urban Housing 17..................................................................................................................1.4 Conclusion 19..............................................................2. Putting Commodities and Networks in Their Place(s) 21................................................................................................................2.1 Introduction 19.............................................................2.2 A Geographical Political Economy Approach 24......................................................................................................2.2.1 Dialectics 25...........................................................................................................2.2.2 Space 26.................................................................................................2.2.3 Contingency 29..........................................................................................................2.2.4 Change 30..............................................................2.3 Biographies, Chains, Circuits and Networks 33...................................................2.4 Beyond the Global Production Networks Approach 39...................................................2.5 Sustainable Production and Consumption Systems 45.........................................................................................................2.6.Commodification 49...................................................................................................................2.7 Conclusion 57vi.................................................................3. Regulating Production and Consumption Networks 59.................................................................................................................3.1 Introduction 59............................................................................................3.2 The Regulation Approach 61..................................................................................................................3.3 Governance 68..........................................................................................................3.4 Governmentality 72........................................................................................3.5 Neo-Gramscian Approaches 75..........................3.6 The Strategic Relational Approach and Cultural Political Economy 77.................................................................3.6.1 Geographical Political Economy 80......................................................3.6.2 Production and Consumption Networks 82.....................................................................................3.6.3 Networks and States 85.............................................................................3.6.4 Networks and Consumers 86...................................................................................................................3.7 Conclusion 904.Dolphin-Safe Tuna from California to Thailand: Localisms in Environmental Certification of .......................................................................................................Global Commodity Networks 92.................................................................................................................4.1 Introduction 92...............................4.2 Regulatory Networks and the Logics and Scales of Certification 95............................................4.3 Unicord, Bumble Bee and Beginnings of Dolphin Safe 100...................................................4.4 The Beginnings of Dolphin-Safe Tuna Monitoring 105.............................................................................................4.5 Enter Thai Perspectives 110..........................................................................................4.6 A Collision of Discourses 112.....................................................................................................................4.7 Analysis 114...............................................................................................................4.8 Conclusions 1195. “This is a Montreal Issue”: Negotiating Responsibility in Global Production and Investment .....................................................................................................................................Networks 122...............................................................................................................5.1 Introduction 122..........5.2 Bringing ‘Responsibility’ Into Global Production and Investment Networks 126....................................5.3 Rethinking ‘Responsibility’ in Global Production Networks 129...........................................................................................................5.4. Alcan in India 133vii.......................................................................................5.5. Responsibilities in Canada 135.......................................................................5.5.1. Commercial Responsibility 135.............................................................................................5.5.2 Human Rights 136.............................................................................5.5.3 Solidarity Organizations 139................................................................................5.5.4 Shareholder Activism 141.....................................................................5.5.5 Alcan's Social Responsibility 143................................................................................................................5.6. Conclusion 147.......................................................................................6. Political Ecologies of Gentrification 149..............................................................................................................6.1 Introduction 149.........................................................................6.2 Political Ecology and Gentrification 153..................................................................................................6.3 Towards a Synthesis 156...................................................................................6.3.1 Local Environments 157....................................................................................6.3.2 Urban Metabolisms 153............................................................6.3.3. Urban Environmental Governance 160..............................................................................................6.3.4 Consumption 163..................................................................................6.3.5 Ecological Rent Gap 165...................................................................6.4 Ecological Gentrification in Vancouver 170...................................................6.4.1. Vancouver's New Urban Developments 173...............................................................6.4.2 Consumption Culture and Values 178................................................................6.4.3 Smart Growth and Eco-Density 181.................................................................................................................6.5 Conclusion 1847.Sustainability-As-Density and the Return of the Social: The Case of Vancouver, British .....................................................................................................................................Columbia 186...............................................................................................................7.1 Introduction 186...........................................7.2 Urban Political Ecology as a Mixed Method Approach 188..........................................................................................7.3 Sustainability-as-Density 192.....................................................................7.4 Measuring Changing Neighbourhoods 194........................................................................7.5 Walkability as Cultural Construction 195.........................................................7.6 Sustainability-as-Density in Planning Practice 205viii...........................................................................................7.7 ‘Creating People Places’ 210......................................................................................7.8 Discussion and Conclusions 214...............................................................................................8. Conclusion: The Network Fix 217.....................................................................................8.1 Review of the Thesis so Far 217....................................................................................................8.2 Introducing the Fix 219..................................................................8.3 Spatial-Temporal and Institutional Fixes 221............................................................................................8.4 Socio-Spatial Dialectics 225....................................8.5 Rethinking Sustainability, Ecological and Eco-Scalar Fixes 227..................................................................................8.6 Three Types of Network Fixes 233...................................................................................8.6.1 The Certification Fix 236...............................................................................................8.6.2 The CSR Fix 238....................................................8.6.3 Revisiting the Urban Sustainability Fix 241.............................................................8.7 The Explanatory Power of the Network Fix 238..............................8.8 Beyond the Case Studies: Towards Eco-Social Transformation 250.................................................................................................................8.9 Conclusion 256................................................................................................................................Bibliography 259ixList of Tables........................................................................................Table 1.1 Variation in the Case Studies 15......................................Table 7.1 Principal Component Analysis of Vancouver Census Tracts 196..............................................................Table 7.2 Regression coefficients and r-squared values 199...................................................................................................Table 8.1 Three Network Fixes 235xList of FiguresFigure 4.1. Ian G.Baird inspecting for dolphin-safe tuna at the Unicord Cannery in Sumut ...............................................................................................................Prakan, Thailand, 1992. 107.........................................Figure 4.2 Strategic action in the tuna dolphin commodity network. 109...........................................................................................Figure 6.1 Onni community gardens 150.......................................................Figure 6.2 Construction site for Onni’s V6A Development. 151.....................................................................Figure 6.3. Sign at gate, Onni community gardens 146....................................................Figure 6.4 Residential property value per km2, 1971 to 2001 168.....Figure 6.5. Rent curve RH with respect to the distance from the city center, at equilibrium 169................................Figure 6.6. Building height curves as function of distance from the center 169.......................................................................Figure 6.7 Density map of the City of Vancouver 172........................................................................................Figure 6.8 False Creek squatter’s boat 176..............................................Figure 7.1. Walkability Index by Census Tract, Vancouver CMA 197.......................Figure 7.2: Correlation of change in social status and walkability in Vancouver 200....Figure 7.3. Correlation of change in social status and distance to rapid transit in Vancouver 200................Figure 7.4 Correlation of change in social status and dwelling density in Vancouver 201...........................................................................Figure 7.5. Advertisement, Lumen, Vancouver 204........................................................Figure 7.6. City of Vancouver, Local Area Planning Needs 211..................................................Figure 7.7: City of Vancouver, Norquay Village Housing Type 212xiAcknowledgements I offer gratitude to the many people who inspired and helped me. First mention goes to Jamie Peck for his patience and insistence that I look at the big picture, and committee members Trevor Barnes and Karen Bakker. Thanks are also due to Philip Le Billon, and Elvin Wyly who introduced me to key ideas and commented on early drafts. Many of the ideas in this thesis originated at the University of Victoria in discussions and under the guidance of Michael M’Gonigle and James Tully. I am also very grateful to Bob Jessop for discussing his work with me in person and reading papers of mine on themes associated with this thesis. Grants were received from both the University of British Columbia (Four Year Fellowship) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (PhD Scholarship) both of which were indispensable as well as encouraging. Many students and post-docs at UBC Geography were especially generous with their time, patience, and listening skills. The following stand out but are not the only ones: Ian G. Baird, Rosemary Collard, Jessica Dempsey, Dawn Hoogeveen, Sara Koopman, Nicholas Lynch, Pablo Mendez, Sebastien Rioux, Elliot Siemiatycki and Melanie Sommerville. I received considerable family support: From my partner Megan Macfadden and her extended family; my parents David and Lila Quastel; my brothers Jeremy and Adam and their families who put me up at times; and above all from my sons Orlando MacFadden-Quastel and Samuel MacFadden Quastel for just being awesome. Having publishing work in academic journals was an invaluable experience, and the various editors I worked with made a huge difference to my writing. Thanks go to Karl Zimmerer at the Annals (chapter 4), Michael Samers at Geoforum (chapter 5) Peter Muller at Urban Geography (Chapters, 6 and 7) and the many anonymous reviews. For Chapter 5, the following people deserve acknowledgment: Lise Parent (Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des enterprises) and Tara Scurr (campaigner for xiiAmnesty International Canada’s Business and Human Rights section) helped with finding sources and identifying problems; participants in the seminar ‘‘Environment, Development and Security’’ (UBC Geography, 2007), the Globalized Asia Conference (UBC Institute for Asian Research, February 28–29, 2008), Law Without Borders Conference (UBC Law, May 1–2, 2008), and Kwantlen University Philosophy Department Colloquium (September 5, 2009). Many people read and gave constructive criticisms on drafts – Christian Berndt, Phillip Le Billon, Rosemary Collard, Sara Koopman, Pablo Mendez, Elliot Siemiatycki. For Chapter 6 I thank participants in the Urban Inequalities Seminar at the Department of Geography, University of British Columbia in the Winter Session of 2008 and participants in the session entitled 'Who' are the gentrifiers in contemporary urban and rural spaces” at the 2009 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, Elvin Wyly, Markus Moos, and Nicholas Lynch were helpful discussants. For Chapter 7 thanks go to Meg Holden, current and former City of Vancouver staff, politicians and consultants who took the time to speak to me. xiii1. Introduction 1. 1. Introduction to the Thesis This thesis analyzes the emergence in the 1990s and 2000s of novel forms of ‘green goods’ or ‘sustainable commodities’. Particular goods come in many forms and include fair trade coffee, certified wood, ethical investment funds, or higher density housing. They reflect efforts to consider environmental and social effects of how goods are made and to change producer and consumer behaviour while still enabling these good to continue to be produced for sale in markets. These initiatives point to large-scale unease and problematization concerning the underlying resource flows and exploitive environmental and social conditions underlying the world of goods and the restrictive thematic and geographic scope of existing social and environmental regulation. Through the 2000s the idea of environmentally transformed consumer goods and production took on a charismatic appeal and motivated many consumers, civil society organization and entrepreneurs, resulting in technological innovations (such as in wind turbine and solar panel technologies), new activist networks (such as solidarity organizations creating fair trading networks), architectural and design aesthetics (such as in ecological modernist architecture), small scale entrepreneurship (such as with bamboo frame bicycles) and considerable celebration in the press and on specialized websites (such as treehugger.com or worldchanging.com). These goods can be viewed as involving the confluence of three trends. They involve a shift in the composition, and processes behind the production and consumption of commodities, broad shifts in environmental thought and policy embodied in different articulations of sustainability as a paradigm, and shifts in the nature of regulation of commodities. As the thesis will explain, sustainable commodities involve transformations in consumption practices, methods of production, the geographic reach of regulation (often across borders), the adoption of new instruments of regulation, and the (often strategic) tailoring of sustainability doctrine to fit into new contexts. Sustainable commodities can be studied as experiments in how markets 1and commodities can be transformed, and possible (even if, not ultimately fully satisfactory) routes towards eco-social transformation. At the outset it will help to define some terms. Here, ‘commodities’ refers to objects created for sale in markets. This usage includes, but is broader than, a common usage of the term to refer to fungible raw materials such as wheat or lumber. ‘Commodification’ refers to the ongoing processes whereby commodities are made and reproduced. This usage of ‘commodification’ includes, but goes beyond, common uses of the term to the conversion of niche goods into easily fungible low price ones, the process whereby nature is converted into resources for sale (such as when trees are cut down for lumber) or when markets are first introduced (such as a shift from feudal to capitalist land management, or, more contemporarily when a public service becomes privatized) (Prudham, 2009). The broader usage is meant to capture the way daily decisions by firms, consumers and state regulatory agencies operate to continuously reproduce commodity systems. This includes setting law, regulation and social norms around how nature is extracted, the conditions for workers and other processes that stand behind and work to constitute the ‘things’ of daily provisioning. It thus covers not only questions of whether to commodify but also how to commodify. In some cases it makes sense to ask ‘whether questions’ -- there are good public policy reasons to restrict the scope of commodification through banning trades in endangered species or body organs (Radin, 1996). However, ‘how questions’ are often more pressing, and touch on a vast array of practices in our market economies, such as how fish are caught, new sites found and developed for mines or cities zoned to provide for private home ownership. ‘Regulation’ is used here in a broad sense. While it does include state laws and administration action it also extends to non-state codes of conduct or industry standards that often operate as explicit rules that guide conduct. As the thesis will explore, there are a broader range of social norms and paradigms for action (such as consumption practices) that shape goods. Uses of the term ‘regulation’ overlaps with ‘governance’. Governance, too, can be interpreted broadly to cover state and non-state action to steer and direct environmental and economic behaviour. It also has a narrower meaning to refer to a specific form of steering using 2cooperation and agreement between the state and non-state actors (Bridge and Perrault, 2009). In many cases environmental regulation has shifted towards this narrower meaning of governance. The result was often a range of modest state interventions, a shift to non-state authority, voluntary codes and standards and consumer buy-in. Central to this thesis is a seldom recognized, but important, distinction between ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ regulation (Doern and Gattinger, 2003, p. 61). Horizontal regulations include health, safety, anti-pollution or employment law and apply across an economy. Vertical or sectoral regimes follow particular commodities such as water, electricity, wheat, oil and gas (Doern and Gattinger, 2003, p. 61). The former incidentally shape commodity systems, acting in the background to shift management decisions, engineers’ plans and by extension final consumer products but rarely with explicit attention to how this changes goods. Alternatively, vertical regulations intentionally follow production and consumption systems, foreground knowledge concerning how they operate, create specific regulatory institutions (such as Water Boards, utility commissions, or grain marketing boards) and lead to the emergence of specialized legal and policy experts. As this thesis explores, vertical regulation may create a reflexive process in which production and consumption (and commodification) is remade as a result of social and political debates. However, vertical regulation may also face significant problems because it ‘follows the thing’ (Cook, 2004) rather than pre-existing borders or divisions of powers (such as federal state constitutions). Creating vertical regulation in a global and ecologically challenged economy requires finding ways to overcome traditional ideas of state, firm and citizen responsibility, settle inter-jurisdictional disputes and conflicts of laws, and sidestep or overturn traditional institutional structures set up under older paradigms. Spatially, vertical regulation may need to work outside the territorial containers of traditional states, and thematically, it may need to coordinate issues of global and local environments, human basic needs or public participation in ways contrary to, or not contemplated in, traditional regulatory institutions. Sustainable commodities involve new forms of vertical regulation, and create a new politics as they seek to resolve these multiple challenges. 3 ‘Sustainability’ has come to have many meanings, often dividing between ‘weak’ forms which render it compatible with neoclassical economics’ prescriptions for capitalist growth and modest interventions to tax externalities, and ‘strong’ forms that recognize the inherent value of biodiversity and ecosystems. As the thesis explores, sustainability has become a very malleable term and despite the earnest efforts of proponents to mold it into a force for significant change (as in Robinson, 2004; Boyd, 2004; Gibson et. al., 2005) common usage often reflects ‘weak’ interpretations. Diverse as these uses are, they do share the idea that environmental policy and action are not only about drawing geographic boundaries around the extent of economic activity (such as traditional wilderness conservation activism stressed) but creating qualitative change in economic systems as well. That is, sustainability forces questions concerning how to commodify, and by extension, analysis of the complex linkages of consumption and production practices, regulatory institutions and organizations, shifting policy paradigms and material flows that make up economies. Understanding the transformation of commodification needs to start with rethinking the nature of commodities/networks. This involves adopting new geographical theories of networks, rethinking how we understand commodification, and case study analysis of shifting regulatory processes concerning commodities/networks. Commodities/networks are at the core of the economy as a system of resource flows and social relationships. Geographers have sought to trace the biographies of commodities as systems of production and consumption, adopting the language of commodity chains, value chains, commodity networks and global production networks to capture the broad array of social and ecological relations and diverse geographies that commodities embody (I use ‘commodities/networks’ and ‘production and consumption networks’ as neutral terms). Rather than being seen only as ‘things’, commodities are understood as involving social processes, narratives and systems of knowledge that connect people, technologies, money, knowledge and ecosystems, often over vast geographies and involving complex interdependencies and with feedback between stages of production, distribution, retail, consumption and waste. 4 Sustainable commodities foreground these often hidden processes, create forms of vertical regulation that did not previously exist, and expand the range of regulatory intervention to include areas of consumption and treatment of nature. The network becomes the object of regulation, leading to changes to production processes and consumption patterns. In this process, the way commodities are regulated changes. As the thesis will discuss, traditional ideas of the ‘commodity form’ can be equated to the background legal and regulatory structures that frame commodity processes. Attention to the actual frameworks that shape commodities shows that there is not unitary commodity form but instead a constant process of alteration and adjustment. Production and consumption networks may be changed through social contestation and struggle that reflects strategic action based on diverse environmental and economic discourses, ideologies and policies. Through cases studies in diverse types of networks -- in bauxite (the key ingredient in aluminum), tuna, and urban housing -- I suggest the need to revise and rethink traditional theories of the commodity and commodification. Commodities should be thought of not only as a complex assemblage of metabolic relationships between people and nature, but also as structured relationships that involve social institutions, regularized practices, imaginaries and shifting roles of the state, law, consumers, firms, civil society and other actors. This helps show how sustainable commodities do not so much decommodify as re-commodify but do so through transforming whole networks using codes of conduct, certification and more formal legal tools. This short introductory chapter introduces the themes and case studies. It is followed by two theoretical chapters that discuss and seek to make novel contributions to an evolving interdisciplinary project in “commodity studies” (Raynolds, 2002; Bernstein and Campling, 2006a,b). This project seeks to understand and trace the biographies and social effects of the things that make up objects for trade in markets. The second chapter provides the background context of the diverse methodologies and theories that are selectively used in the individual case studies. Addressing the issue of ‘what is a commodity’ and how to understand commodities, this chapter suggests production and consumption networks as complex socio-technical and natural systems that are material, 5discursive, social and economic processes and sets out and compares different theories (and associated methodologies) for understanding them. Many of these approaches have been grouped under the umbrella of Global Production Networks (GPNs). The case studies (written before the introduction and two theory chapters) drew on the GPN framework. However, in the time the case studies were conducted the GPN framework came under theoretical scrutiny, and alternative research programs emerged such as “sustainable production and consumption systems” . The chapter suggests that geographers such as David Harvey, Doreen Massey and Erik Swyngedouw have developed a unique tradition -- that of geographical political economy (Sheppard, 2011) -- which can offer a helpful perspective for understanding commodities/networks that can incorporate the best of, but also go beyond, the GPN framework. Geographical political economy gives a central role of capital accumulation and uneven global development, but can also recognize the role of consumers, civil society, new ideas, political visions and so the possibilities for change and transformation in networks. Sustainable commodities suggest the need to rethink many traditional political economy concepts of commodities/networks, and the chapter directly discusses the need to update ideas of commodification. It points towards research focused on the regulatory systems that shape commodification processes. Chapter 3 canvasses theories of regulation that can track the changing configurations of relationships in commodities/networks and societal contestation over the make up of commodities/networks. It pays particular attention to theoretical frameworks that have been developed to understand non-state regulation such as certification systems. The chapter discusses prominent geographical political economy approaches, such as those that follow the Regulation Approach pioneered by Michel Aglietta and others that have been applied to diverse sustainable commodities such as theories of ‘governance’,‘governmentality’ and approaches that follow Antonio Gramsci’s work. The case studies were conducted with neo-Gramscian approaches in mind but do not particularly foreground them. However, the second chapter deepens the analysis of neo-Gramscian approaches, and suggests Bob Jessop’s and Ngai-Ling Sum’s Cultural Political Economy provides a sophisticated neo-Gramscian position that can be extended to theorize regulation in production and consumption networks. 6 The four case studies seek to understand the dynamics of production and consumption networks across different areas, and with different forms of coordination that give different roles to state, civil society and private sector actors. The case studies thus differ according to types of certification and regulation (following, Schroeder (2010) and more fully set out below at sec. 1.3). They thus range from third party certification with independent inspectors, forms of voluntary and unilateral affirmation of adherence to standards by a firm, and more traditional state (municipal) law. The case studies highlight debates amongst participants over how to regulate and what the predominant principles and regulatory instruments should be. They include the role of firms and civil society actors in contributing to debates and actively working to shape network regulation. The first case study considers an environmental organization and industry alliance in the early 1990s to create one of the first global eco-labels, dolphin-safe tuna. The second considers corporate sustainability policy, focusing on Alcan Inc. of Canada (now part of Rio Tinto), its investments in Indian bauxite mines and pressure in Canada in the mid 2000s for it to withdraw. These explore forms of civil regulation by non-state authorities which extend beyond traditional borders. The third case study considers the connection between sustainability policy, inner city redevelopment and gentrification processes in Vancouver, Canada in the late 2000s. It particularly focuses on the effects of housing as an emerging type of sustainable commodity. It traces the development of sustainability planning in Vancouver and suggests efforts to make housing more sustainable contributed to processes of ‘ecological’ gentrification in the city. The fourth case study also focuses on Vancouver. It traces more recent developments in Vancouver as the city moved from policies of ‘EcoDensity’ to the “Green Economy” and expanded densification initiatives outside of the urban core to change established residential neighbourhoods.Moving beyond a focus on gentrification per se, it considers the wider problematic of the relationships between urban environmental policy, house price dynamics, and neighbourhood change. I chose these case studies to emphasize that housing is an object for sale in markets with dynamics of production, consumption, relationships to nature, discursive narratives and forms of public private involvement in regulation. Not only was housing comparable to other environmental and socially contentious commodities/networks but a focus on housing would trouble the assumption that global and local networks can be treated 7independently, or that there are necessarily clean lines separating traditional state regulation from emergent soft law alternatives. The conclusion returns to Jessop and Sum’s neo-Gramscian approach and argues that each of the case studies shows what I call a ‘network fix’ as well as the ways sustainability as a policy paradigm can inform such fixes. This builds on Jessop and Sum’s interpretation of spatio-temporal and institutional fixes and their attention to strategic societal and economic projects and argues these ideas can be applied to commodities/networks. Jessop and Sum suggest a fix as a broad economy wide shift in political economy and regulatory policy that provides a way for profit-oriented, market-mediated accumulation to continue, while simultaneously involving a compromise of diverse forces. Fixes thus selectively incorporate civil society concern and state responsibilities (such as securing social cohesion and order). They operate for circumscribed periods and specific spatial domains, may prioritize certain spaces (such as the national state as the primary vehicle for economic regulation) and involve shifts in regulatory institutions. They are guided by discourses and imaginaries and may involve changes to the roles and identities of market participations.. In special cases, of which the case studies are examples, sustainability can operate as a policy paradigm that informs network fixes. The language of fix helps establish the central conclusions of the thesis. In each of the case studies, the expansion of capitalist processes involved a contradictory and conflict laden relationship with extra-economic, non-capitalist social and environmental processes. Networks can operate as political communities or ‘polis’ in which participants disagree, debate and struggle to transform how they are organized. In the case studies, societal pushback was in turn met by a process of negotiation and compromise which modestly incorporated civil society concern but was also protective of existing economic processes, and firm position. The results were thus often patently unjust and offered only minimal environmental reforms. This suggests that while commodification can be transformed, the results often serve to protect power and legitimacy in markets rather than incorporate social and environmental justice concerns. Sustainability as a discourse has been increasingly enlisted for this purpose. However, this is not a sealed process, and the case studies also show further resistance as diverse groups seek to both advance more 8just forms of regulating commodities/networks and emphasize the social aspects of sustainability. There remain many potential avenues for transforming commodification in more progressive directions and redirecting sustainability discourses. In the following I introduce the core themes of the thesis through exploring the confluence of commodities/networks, regulation and sustainability. I then introduce the case studies and the reasons why they were selected. 1.2. Why Study Sustainable Commodities The terms ‘sustainable commodities’ and ‘sustainability networks’ have been used in a number of interlinked ways. The term ‘commodity’ has long been used to denote undistinguishable and easily fungible goods such as grains, and ‘commoditization’ connotes the process whereby formerly novel products such as computers become standardized, mass produced and lose the novelty that allows high profit margins for early innovators. Alternatively, many social scientists have introduced the term ‘networks’ to stress overall coordination and interlinkages between stages of resource extraction, processing, transportation, consumption and waste. Others emphasize production to include advanced manufacturing and complex goods such as automobiles (Henderson et. al., 2002) and consumption to underline the causal role of consumer culture and practices (Hughes and Reimer, 2004). I thus use the terms ‘commodities/networks’ and ‘production and consumption networks’ as a theory neutral vocabulary which also reflect that there are these different perspectives. Sustainability has emerged since the 1980s as the dominant framework for expressing environmental concern, and documents such as Agenda 21 have stressed the need to translate that into transforming systems of production and consumption (Agenda 21, chapter 4). Many state, firm and non-governmental organization initiatives have adopted sustainability language to portray social and environmental concern, or to help strengthen the legitimacy or gain broader institutional support for their projects. The focus on commodities/networks and concern with environmental transformation of the economy have been combined in a wide diversity of initiatives to reshape goods, whether explicitly following sustainability discourse or more generally seeking specific forms of 9environmental improvement. The ‘Sustainable Commodities Initiative” involved a number of actors in development non-government organizations and the United Nations that proposed new forms of commodity agreements in coffee and other agricultural products to help alleviate rural poverty in the developing world (Clay, 2005; IISD, 2010). Advocates called for “strategic thinking about redesign of commodity systems” (Sawin et. al., 2003, p. 51). “Sustainable biofuels” names ENGO-industry negotiations to create baseline rules over palm oil or other biofuels (Bailis and Baka, 2011). The term “sustainability networks” has also been proposed to cover any number of cases where “assemblage of actors, objects, procedures and relations coalescing around addressing or managing social and/or environmental aspects of commodity production, processing, exchange and consumption” (Ponte and Cheyns, 2013, p. 2, also see IISD, 2010, ISEAL, 2013). One of the central innovations driving and enabling these changes has been product labelling and certification, and the successes of fair trade coffee and organic foods often serve as a template. Initiatives such as the Forest Stewardship Council certification system for wood products, or the Marine Stewardship Council certification system for fisheries actively invoke sustainability in the design of their standards (Tollefson et. al., 2008; Bentley and Smith, 2013). Following this broad definition there are many examples where sustainability or certification is used to change goods by the efforts of firms, cities, national states, and civil society. This area has also spawned its own forms of research. As the many references to secondary literature through this thesis will show, there are many researchers studying these systems from different theoretical approaches. However a unique approach, ‘sustainable consumption and production systems’ seeks to compare different initiatives and provide policy guidance for how to advance the agenda of eco-social transformation of commodities/networks (Lebel and Lorek, 2008). As Mansfield (2009) has noted, despite often being depoliticized or flexibly interpreted to fit within existing political and institutional orders, sustainability carries with it a notion of problematization -- that there is still much wrong with, and so need to make changes to, current nature-society relationships. These efforts share not only the invocation and application of concepts of sustainability but also imply that commodities/networks are open to change. Commodities/networks can become the object of societal debate, issuing in new imaginaries for how they could look, new 10forms of regulation and material transformations through the network. Sustainable commodities are examples of a much broader trend in the 1990s and 2000s towards combining market regulation with environmental improvement. Such regulation both redefines state action and seeks alternatives to state action (e.g. combining new theories and approaches to regulation, forms of market making and flexible use of non-state actors). In some certification systems it introduces a broad range of parameters for intervention -- combining social and environmental concerns -- and follows networks even as they extend beyond state borders. These initiatives force questions of what is a commodity, and what is commodity regulation and what it means for sustainability to operate as a paradigm that changes commodities/networks. Many social scientists also give the term ‘commodity’ a broader sense, following Karl Marx’s famous insight that under capitalism factory work involves the commodification of labour. A commodity can thus also signify not only generic goods such as grains but any ‘object’ (or a person or process treated as an object) for purposes of exchange or sale in markets (Prudham, 2009). Marxian analysis also emphasizes that despite its ‘thing’-like nature a commodity embodies complex social and ecological relationships, suggesting such analysis may be compatible with the language of networks. However, sustainable commodities/networks open up a complex set of questions concerning how markets operate, their variation and potential for change, the role of the state in remaking capitalist processes and the institutions and organizations that can be leveraged to drive transformations. There is a need to develop theoretical orientations that can work reciprocally with empirical research to help explore the dynamic and evolving relationship between capitalist processes and social values, how these are expressed in different forms of environmental and economic regulation, and the effects such initiatives have on changing economy, society and nature. Proponents of sustainable commodities treat sustainability as a normative concept that points towards creative ways to incorporate environmental, economic and social objectives. As a central paradigm shaping policy since the 1990s it has been very thoroughly studied, at least at the level of the development of international norms and diverse underlying philosophies. Critical geographers such as Becky Mansfield have found that sustainability as a concept is highly 11political (Mansfield, 2009). This suggests that it be treated, like other dominant policy discourses, as a social process that changes as it moves, mutating and hybridizing as it touches down and changes practical systems (Brenner et. al., 2010). This thesis follows an approach begun in urban studies to consider ‘actually existing sustainabilities’ (Krueger and Agyeman, 2005). Sustainability remains an ambiguous and contested concept, and it is given very different interpretations in specific contexts. As such, this thesis does not seek to replicate existing work that maps all the different traditions and interpretations of sustainability and sustainable development. Instead, more focused discussion is provided in individual case studies. The need for sustainability to be applied in context means that, despite efforts to render technical (Ferguson, 1990; Li, 2007) or to support current systems, it still brings forth political disagreement (Mansfield, 2009). While often very modest or incremental in ambition sustainable commodities invite the larger question of how current economic systems can be changed through diverse political visions for eco-social transformation. Part of the discourse around such transformations now extends to diverse pathways, from reformist to radical, which question who owns production, seek to transform lifestyles away from Keynesian mass consumption norms, and seek to localize the production and consumption goods to increase public participation and decrease corporate control and energy intensive transportation (Milani, 200l; Hess, 2007). This thesis seeks to retain a sense of this contested nature of sustainability and production and consumption networks. It does this through attention in the case studies to alternative proposals and how they come into conflict. It also seeks to cast light on the many institutions, from state law to social conventions that shape networks. I seeks to theorize regulation in ways that can empower civil society actors to transform networks. More broadly, the confluence of sustainability and the language of commodities suggests larger discussion about the survival or transformations of capitalism in the face of ecological crisis. Individual initiatives can serve as both attempts by states and firms to suggest their current institutions and structures can be incrementally reformed -- that they are moving towards sustainability. A focused analysis on individual cases can be a way to test these implicit claims. More broadly it invites speculation concerning whether capitalism as a social and economic 12system can ever be sustainable and even if it could if that would be a desirable outcome (O’Connor, 1994). Some have theorized that the gradual incorporation of sustainability into policy is a sign of a deeper process of ecological modernization, a general shift towards greater reflexivity and incorporation of environmental concern (Hajer, 1995): Others identify ecological modernization with a form of sustainable capitalism (Bridge, 2000). I have doubts this has already happened at a large scale or that it is in any way inevitable, triggered as it were by underlying drives in the system to become more reflexive or protect its resource base (for critiques of ecological modernization see Murphy and Gouldson, 2000; Eckersley, 2004; Elling, 2008). Working off of the assumption that there is space for collective, political choice concerning the future direction of our economy and ecology I have sought to interrogate the details of specific commodities/networks that might shed light on current trajectories towards eco-social change. As the thesis should make clear, there are many ways of shaping specific economic processes (such as commodities/networks) and, by extension many possible future economies that can be more or less capitalistic. Facilitating such change requires, in part, understanding the workings of commodities, environmental discourses, economic and environmental regulation and political contestation around those efforts. 1.3 Situating the Case Studies and Chapters of the Thesis The theoretical orientation and thematic concerns of the thesis were developed in concert with the selection of case studies. The case studies in dolphin-safe tuna, Canadian-Indian bauxite investment and Vancouver’s Smart Growth-inspired housing reflected examples of sustainable commodities for which there was room for innovative research. They each fit into overlapped concerns with how commodities/networks were being problematized and made an object of politics, market-oriented environmental policy, and conflicting imaginaries over how to address significant underlying social and environmental problems. Each case study involves forms of vertical regulation in which efforts were directed at working around, supplementing or overcoming the limits of traditional horizontal regulation. The case study research was exploratory. The case studies provide entry points into complex economic, social, technological, and ecological systems. As the following chapter will 13describe there are now many available methodologies to ‘follow the thing’ and there is by necessity a need to limit the repertoire of techniques. The approach used in the case studies is predominantly narrative and textually based, accompanied by attention to the regulatory process, associated institutions, organizations and underlying philosophies, and the conflicting perspectives or ‘imaginaries’ of diverse participants. Three distinct case studies were selected as a way to balance depth with comparison. Because a central concern was uncovering diverse issues and different dynamics in network regulation I emphasized the exploration of variation. The cases studies thus reflect examples of types of regulatory form. They differ concerning the spatial reach of commodities/networks, the mode of coordination and the authorities that guide the regulatory process. Schroeder (2010) sets out a four fold classificatory system applicable for commodities/networks which is helpful here. First party certification involves a voluntary and unilateral affirmation of adherence to standards by a firm but without any independent auditing or enforcement. Second party certification involves oversight by an industry body, which can include auditing of sustainability reports. Third party certification system is more robust and involves published, public norms and standards, inspection processes carried out by third-party inspectors, a label that alerts consumers to certification and a network of institutions that governs use of the label. State and international hard law can be considered as fourth party certification. In the case studies this also corresponds to a difference between global commodities/networks and ones that are wholly domestic (See Table 1.1). I wanted to include local as opposed to global commodities/networks to investigate similarities between state and non-state modes of regulation and differences between entirely voluntary systems and those which involve ‘hard’ law. In what follows I give some background for each case study.14Table 1.1: Variation in the Case Studies case study mode of coordination or interventiontype of certification local or globalTuna Dolphin certification standards (alliance)3rd party global Alcan CSR code of conduct (firm) 1st and 2nd party certificationglobal Vancouver inner city densification shifts in market construction by state4th party urbanVancouver residential neighbourhood densification shifts in market construction by state4th party urban 1.3.1 Certification and Tuna From the 1970s on there has been an entrepreneurial tradition of creating niche markets in health food such as organics, and ‘green’ products ranging from washing detergent to green cemeteries. Organic food had become big business by the early 1990s and the associated model of labels and certification became the precedent for various certification systems such as Forest Stewardship Council wood or the Marine Stewardship Council (Tollefson et. al., 2008; Bentley and Smith, 2010). By the 1990s there was widespread experimentation with expanding certification systems into areas such as forest products, carbon offsets, renewable energy, or coffee. Certification systems have been labelled as ‘sustainable commodities’, ‘sustainability initiatives’, and ‘sustainability networks’ (Ponte and Cheyns, 2013, p.461, also see IISD, 2010, ISEAL, 2013). These systems directly link production and consumption because the presumed driver of these systems is the conscientious consumer. States often retain a presence through labeling laws that protect (and define) the use of terms. As examples of third party certification, they create a layer of regulatory authority that extends beyond firms and states. They are thus at the centre of debates about the merits of voluntary arrangements. Earth Island Institute was an animal rights based California ENGO which found itself in the unlikely position of running one of the first global certification systems in the early 1990s. In 152008 I was able to collaborate with Ian Baird (then a PhD candidate at UBC Geography) who had worked as a certifier with Earth Island in Thailand. This provided a rare opportunity to interrogate the inner workings of a certification system and analyze the internal differences in the organization over how the label would be defined. I was able to analyze how the adoption of standards reshaped power relations in the network, and how the location of actors affect both power and preferred principles for how to regulate the network. I could interrogate how imaginaries of production and consumption would work reciprocally in negotiations over the terms of certification. 1.3.2 Business Sustainability and Bauxite The second case study, on Alcan’s investments in India, concern how business sustainability works to regulate long distance commodities/networks. Business sustainability involves many threads. The World Business Council on Sustainable Development was present at Rio in 1992 and would contribute through the 1990s to forging a business oriented approach to sustainability (Mebratu, 1998). Through the 1990s there was a tremendous outpouring of business literature (and associated management consultants) claiming the economic benefits of efficiency measures and the possibilities for firms to tap into growing markets for green products (Vogel, 2005). This also coalesced with concerns over the role of stakeholders and the social role of firms -- there is thus often a commingling of sustainability and corporate social responsibility discourses. In the words of the business scholar Andrew Hoffman, what emerged was ‘strategic environmentalism’ (Hoffman, 2001). The result is a hybrid of the search for profitable forms of technological change, codes of conduct that create some ethical and social constraints over supply chains, internal management systems to comply with the complexity of state laws, accounting and reporting standards (such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for counting carbon emissions, or the Global Reporting Initiative‘s sustainability metrics), access to information and transparency rules (such as to comply with anti-corruption laws), and guidelines and management systems for project assessment, development, and ongoing performance (IFC, 2013). 16 This case study analyzes struggles in Canada over the interpretation and compliance with Alcan’s sustainability policies. Alcan’s use of sustainability was not atypical for business interpretations of the term. Alcan was at the time of the events and case study one of the largest Canadian companies and had widely promoted its adoption of sustainability policies (Girard, 2005). The fact that there had been massacres at the site of its proposed bauxite mine and smelter in Orissa (now renamed as Odisha) creating a lightning rod for a growing movements in Canada on business and human rights, shareholder activism and international solidarity. Alcan’s reach into Orissa in the 2000s was based on investment and partnership, and so the methodological frameworks around commodities/networks is extended to cover not only physical networks but the networks of capital and social interaction that precede or accompany physical networks. Alcan’s response would be a litmus test of how seriously it took a suite of policies that were largely ‘first party’ certification. While its sustainability reports were audited (second party certification), Alcan was ostensibly legislator, prosecutor, judge and enforcer of its newly adopted regulatory standards (first party). I was able to conduct this research in 2007 and 2008 as part of collaborating with Amnesty International Canada and a Quebec based religious investment fund. While Alcan had only that year pulled out there was widespread interest in whether remedies were available to victims. As the final chapter discusses, my initial investigations were directed towards this question but through that research I also gained insight into the strategies and tactics rights advocates could employ. In writing the chapter I could rely wholly on public documents (and so not betray any confidentialities). 1.3.3 Sustainability Planning and Urban Housing The third case study concerns urban sustainability, which has emerged as very visible and contentious in a number of cities, including Vancouver, Canada. Urban land use planning involves the state, but in a mode of intervention that is largely unseen by most people: It shifts the background conditions whereby housing development and consumer choice in housing is made. From the 1930s urban planning had a “physicalist” dimension -- Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford and Patrick Abercrombie had focused on channeling growth and sprawl to ensure clean urban environments. While planning in the 1960s and 1970s planning came increasingly to focus 17on issues of social inclusion and participation, the combined retrenchment of the welfare state and the rise of environmental concern has meant a return to such physicalism (Hall, 1996; Batty and Marshall, 2009; Hutton, 2011). In Vancouver, Canada this process was accompanied by a shift from a Keynesian model of robust social housing provision to a shift towards markets. As housing in Vancouver increasingly turned to apartments, the traditional legal distinction between real property and personal property could easily be seen to obscure the role of capital and markets: “A ‘condo’ was self-contained and simple, could be owned from a distance, occupied or left vacant, and transferred in a market of highly fungible commodities” (Harris, 2011, p. 714): Urban sustainability was largely focused on shifting the nature of housing as a commodified good. In Canada, housing was traditionally regulated by the federal government through mortgage support and social housing transfers for reasons of social equality and economic stimulus, and by provinces in areas of building codes and consumer protection. Urban sustainability planning creates new forms of environmental regulation of housing, representing a thematic shift in, and transfer of responsibilities for, vertical regulatory frameworks. Here extant research in gentrification proved a very helpful framework, having already analyzed links between production and consumption, inequality and urban landscape change (Lees et. al., 2007). This case study considers how central city housing takes on the form of a sustainable commodity, the ways this requires the coordination of diverse actors, from urban planners to developers, consumers and lifestyle oriented businesses and the effect this has on access to housing. It was conducted in 2008 and revised in 2009 and drew on personal observations and photographs, site visits, newspaper articles, reports and secondary literature. The final case study is presented as a political ecological analysis of gentrification, however this is simply one way of describing shifts in housing markets, the composition of individual homes and transformations of neighbourhoods. The fourth case study, conducted in 2010 and 2011 continues the story following the planning process as it was updated and shifted to outlying residential areas. Discourses of sustainability, through ideas of quality of life and walkability, increasingly focused on ‘neighbourhood’ characteristics. I was also able to supplement methodologies used in the first 18case study with interviews with three past and present city planners, one sitting city councillor and one outside consultant who worked on the city’s new policies. I was also able to work with two other (then) UBC Geography PhD candidates. With Markus Moos’ abilities with regression analysis and quantitative traditions in urban geography I could expand political ecologies’ quantitative side to include statistics on shifting neighbourhood demographics. Nicholas Lynch expanded a cultural studies analysis of how densification was leading to neighbourhood landscape change. 1.4 Conclusion Commodities and the networks that create them are central to our daily lives and the workings of our economic systems. This extends to internationally traded raw materials and agricultural products such as oil, natural gas, coffee, wheat and cotton, and to industrial goods such as computers and automobiles. It also includes many commodities/networks that states have taken a central role in organizing and regulating, such as electricity systems. Yet commodities/networks also mediate our metabolic relations with people and nature, entangling us and so making us complicit with distant harms and ecological crises. There are many diverse imaginaries for how to restructure commodities/networks to better incorporate the growing corpus of ecological knowledge and citizen demands for economic democracy, human rights and social justice. These include broad societal visions (which imply changes to commodities/networks) as well as more specific interventions that specifically target networks. This thesis concerns one sub-set of the latter approach, that is, where sustainability has emerged as a paradigm that makes an object of specific networks. In writing this thesis I do want to explore the possibilities for ecological and social transformations of the economy. At the same time, I argue that it is important to not simply accept dominant interpretations of sustainability but to understand these as only a subset of the many conceptual frameworks that can guide eco-social change. However, distinguishing the many different models for change is not enough: We also need to understand the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the processes whereby sustainability becomes institutionalized and creates changes. My concern with commodities/networks in part reflects 19the fact that these represent one area where discourses of sustainability have made real inroads. This reflects in some ways the pragmatics of the situation. States are often slow to act, compromised as they are by the conflict of ideologies and political parties or preferring not to touch issues concerning market place freedoms. However, some consumers and firms have often shown a willingness to make some changes. The pragmatic and incremental nature of civil society interventions has often meant that specific networks are made the object of attention. My concern with commodities/networks also stems from a deeply felt concern with our relations with nature. The ‘environment’ is not a problem ‘out there’, one that only concerns distant resource peripheries or international diplomats: It touches our daily practices of earning a living and supplying our basic needs such as food, housing and transport. While commodities embody metabolic relationships with nature, these are also structured relationalities, shaped by myriad institutions, organizations, norms, economic theories and practices often quite outside of the powers of individual choice to change. It is thus vital to understand social processes of change including what strategies emerge as likely to have influence over the policy process or hold narrative appeal that can drive collective mobilization. A final reason for interest in sustainable commodities is that they change the economy and economic regulation and how we think about it. By foregrounding the process behind products, the roles of firms and consumers as political agents and entire networks as the object of regulation they shift practices and our thinking about those practices. Sustainability as a paradigm may have many problems and weaknesses, but exploring its movement into policy and practice also helps show what is at stake, and the many changes that we will have to make, if we are to create not only an economy and society that can respond to significant ecological and social crisis, but do so in just ways. 202. Putting Commodities and Networks in Their Place(s)2.1 Introduction A simple definition of a commodity is that of an object for sale on markets (Prudham, 2009). However, this leaves open myriad questions about where goods come from, the people, places, technologies, ecosystems and other elements that go into commodities, how they are used, and the many institutions, organizations and social groups with an interest in them. If we begin with the premise that commodities are not simply objects but situate ‘things‘ as the product of myriad social relations and geographical dispersed material processes, analysis shifts to consider processes of production, consumption, and waste: Commodities can be seen as multi-dimensional processes, combining physical materials, economic processes (such as capital flows), different places that are participants in often long-distance transportation and communication systems, organizations (such as corporations and their governance structures), knowledge systems (such as patents or managers’ expertise), built infrastructure (such as factories or transmission lines),and institutions (such as health, safety and environmental laws and management systems). Because there are so many different commodities/networks and each is a complex process, different theories by necessity provide different entry points. Sustainable commodities create challenges for traditional theories of ‘the commodity’ and for economic regulation. Since David Harvey’s call to “penetrate the veil of fetishisms with which we are necessarily surrounded by virtue of the system of commodity production and exchange” (Harvey, 1990, p. 423) considerable work has shown that “what lies behind it” (Harvey, 1990, p. 423) are a myriad of complex socio-technical apparatuses that stretch across the globe and commingle people, things, nature, cultural representations, technologies and institutions. Sustainable commodities add further to this complexity because they foreground, creatively re-imagine and regulate the processes behind products, the links between consumption and production, and the long-distance ecological relationships embodied in simple acts of exchange. They attempt forms of what I call network regulation -- that is, regulation that seeks to holistically govern, and redesign the broader processes that make the ‘thing’. This foregrounds the question of the many types of regulation that structure commodities/networks (‘sustainable’ 21or otherwise) and the possibilities for such regulation to be transformed. This requires analyzing the role of states in creating the enabling conditions for commodity production and exchange. It also requires understanding the architectures of markets and shifting policies -- such as sectoral policies in electricity, food grains or water -- that regulate the ‘things’ that make up everyday life in market societies. Commodities are not only ‘things’ but the material embodiment of a series of shifting relationships that include law and the state. Sustainable commodities also challenge traditional assumptions that it is only the juridical-legal state that directly regulates, involving as they do private forms of regulatory authority often at a distance from but not entirely separate from the state. Such regulation is not necessarily benign, but the result of negotiation and compromise: They mix corporate drives to maintain profit-oriented market-mediated accumulation, state logics and societal values, including efforts to ‘decommodify’. In short, sustainable commodities challenge traditional ideas that there is a unitary and stable idea of the commodity, its regulatory architecture and of the ongoing relationships between the state, civil society, consumers and ‘things’. This chapter and the next concern theories for understanding and studying commodities and their regulation. While many approaches mention or imply an important role for regulatory institutions and organizations they often fail to clearly articulate the difference between general social science theories and methodologies for understanding commodities/networks and specific theories of regulation. In an attempt to remedy this oversight, this chapter interrogates theories and methodologies for answering the questions concerning what are commodities (and how to study them) and the next chapter concerns theories of regulation of commodities. While we need to develop a theory neutral language (hence ‘commodities/networks’ and ‘production and consumption networks’), we also need to recognize that how we understand these processes is informed by an emerging galaxy of heterodox economic approaches which seek to understand “the actual processes which provide the flow of goods and services required by society to meet the needs of those who participate in its activities” (Lee, 2008, p. 27). However, rather than simply juxtaposing heterodox to neoclassical economics I suggest we need to recognize that this is a theoretically contested domain and affirm that theorization and its associated conflicts are central to understanding. I describe a range of approaches developed in economic geography 22and other heterodox economics and politics for studying commodities. These are, in turn, selectively incorporated into the case studies in subsequent chapters. In this chapter I argue that a geographical political economy approach can provide a theoretical basis for commodity studies, and draw on authors such as David Harvey, Doreen Massey, Erik Swyngedouw and Eric Sheppard. I also show how such an approach can both draw on but also provide a theoretical orientation for a growingly diverse and catholic array of approaches being developed in geography and other disciplines for understanding commodities. While some existing work (such as in GPNs) does loosely draw on geographical political economy sources there has not yet to date been a conscious and systematic attempt to reflect on how central principles of that tradition might guide geographical analysis of commodities/networks. In the following I introduce a geographical political economy approach to commodities (2.2). I argue that a geographical political economy perspective recognizes not only the role of capital and the production of uneven development but can be extended to consider issues of materiality, nature, culture and regulation. I then canvass work in commodity chains, value chains, commodity cultures, commodity networks, political ecology and global production networks (“GPNs”). GPNs has emerged as a central umbrella concept for commodity studies and often draws on and adopts themes from geographical political economy (2.3). However, GPN has remained primarily an eclectic orientation directed at empirical studies of diverse commodities/networks rather seeking to provide a consistent theory (of network ontology, methodology and account of driving causes). It has not to date sought to reflect on the theoretical commitments of geographical political economy, and, the ways this might shift what has become a hybridizing, fluid and theoretically imprecise program. GPNs work faces many criticisms and theoretical tensions and I suggest that a focus on core concerns of the geographical political economy approach might provide a firmer theoretical grounding. I suggest that rather than phrase work on commodities/networks in terms of the broad umbrella of GPN, research should seek to develop a more theoretical focused account -- a geographical political economy of commodities/networks that can apply to local and global systems (2.4). I then compare such an 23approach to research in ‘sustainable production and consumption systems’ which also seeks to understand sustainable commodities (2.5) I also situate a geographical political approach to commodities/networks in debates around commodification. I argue it points towards a substantive analysis of how commodification occurs and the institutions that shape commodification, rather than simply identify whether goods do (or should) take on the commodity form (2.6). This then leads to the second chapter, which develops a geographical political economy approach for the regulation of commodities. 2.2 A Geographical Political Economy Approach Eric Sheppard (2011) suggests that a core approach in economic geography as a discipline is that of ‘geographical political economy’. Its genealogy can be traced back to the 1970s when geographers began to discover Karl Marx’s work, and David Harvey’s geographical critique and extension of Marx’s theories played a central role. The tradition is not wedded to Marxian analysis nor economism, and researchers in this tradition have branched out to adopt new theoretical perspectives such as feminism, cultural studies or economic anthropology. However, many writers retain a post-Marxist sensibility of engaging empirical research to challenge or vindicate theoretical claims that emerge from the Marxist tradition. According to Sheppard, geographical political economists do share a series of core views. Capitalism is named as an economic system and is seen as conflictual and unstable. It produces inequalities and uneven development and is not necessarily superior to many other possible ways of organizing economies. Because economic processes need to be considered in relation to the biophysical, cultural and social processes with which they co-evolve, capitalism penetrates and transforms the natural and the social world (and vice versa). Geography is not an outside constraint or extraneous to the economy, but both shapes and is produced alongside economic activities. Commodities/networks are a central concern of this tradition, and a number of the tradition’s theoretical ideas are salient for understanding commodities/networks. Geographical political economy begins with the actions of capitalists setting aside capital to finance the production of commodities, rather than at the moment of exchange. It engages in a substantive analysis of economic processes that can include tracing the material flows and 24geographic spread of commodity systems. This includes both quantitative methods (such as statistics on embodied carbon or units of steel imported into a country) as well as qualitative methods (such as interviews or ethnography). It stresses the latter because the full range of experiences and processes involved in commodity production and consumption cannot be represented through abstract production functions or models of standardized products (such as ‘widgets’). Instead there is a need to attend to the “complexity, contingency, uncertainty, materiality and complex spatio-temporalities that accompany production” (Sheppard, 2011, p. 325). Commodity production includes transformations of nature into resources, creating entanglements with biophysical, social, political and cultural processes and “is always a highly politicized process” (Sheppard, 2011, p. 324). Beyond Sheppard’s excellent overview of the tradition we can also identify four central theoretical concerns in this tradition which can be brought to bear on understanding commodities/networks. These can be labelled as ‘dialectics’, ‘space’, ‘contingency’ and ‘change’. 2.2.1 Dialectics Not all geographical political economists work with a concept of dialectics, but it is central to David Harvey’s work. David Harvey reads dialectics as not explicitly stated by Marx but evident in how Capital, Volume 1 is structured. It thus names theory and practice, and many geographers have taken on methods that dialectics implies. Dialectics, most broadly conceived, describes processes of conceptual, social (and sometimes even natural) conflict, interconnection and change, in which a key role is afforded to the generation, interpenetration and clash of oppositions, leading to their transcendence (Sheppard, 2008, drawing on Bhaskar, 1993). While Marxist analysis is often believed to use a simplistic account of dialectics attributed (rightly or wrongly) to Hegel (“thesis - antithesis - synthesis”) an alternative reading has come to dominate in geographical political economy. Dialectics names a process “in which the Cartesian separations between mind and matter, between thought and action, between consciousness and materiality, between theory and practice have no purchase” (Harvey, 1996, p.48). Dialectics emphasized the understanding of processes, flow, fluxes and alterations over the analysis of elements, things, structures and organized systems. 25 Dialectics has significant repercussions for how we might understand a commodity as a ‘thing’. For Harvey, dialectics is “a deep ontological principle...elements, things, structures, and systems do not exist outside of or prior to the processes, flows, and relations that create, sustain, or undermine them” (Harvey, 1996, p. 49, also see Sheppard, 2008, p. 2606). ‘Things’ are constituted out of flows, process and relations and exist in relationship to larger wholes. As such “a dialectical conception of both the individual ‘thing’ and the structured system of which it is a part rests entirely on an understanding of the process and relations by which thing and structured system are constituted “ (Harvey, 1996, p. 50). Both things and systems are understood as internally heterogenous and constituted by multiple processes. Dialectics thus “forces us always to ask the question of every ‘thing’ or ‘event’ that we encounter: By what process was it constituted and how is it sustained” (p. 50). Harvey’s notion of dialectics points to a relational materialism. Commodities involve evolving metabolic relationships between producers (who bring investment capital and seek profits) consumers (who seek to fulfill desires and bodily needs) and nature (from which resources are obtained). Networks are situated within, reflect and can also contribute to the broader political economy, including the state in its role of upholding law and providing economic regulation and social cohesion. Commodities are shaped by local contexts which can include supportive and constraining legal frameworks, the nature of the local workforce (and its expertise) and available resources. 2.2.2 Space Second, as a geographical approach there is an emphasis on physical processes that extend over space. While commodities/networks embody efforts by capitalists to invest capital in the search for profit there are spatial aspects to this process. As Harvey’s spatial treatment of Marx in The Limits to Capital (1982) implies, commodities/networks are a central conduit for the outward expansion of capital. Commodities/networks are subject to competing logics, as investors alternate between seeking to keep capital fixed in place so as to enjoy the benefits of long term investment and local knowledge and skills, or to look for new places to find profits from new markets, resources or labour supply. The result is a mixture of local infrastructure and long-distance chains that can span the globe. Harvey’s numerous books on cities underscore the 26significant reconfigurations of cities over time as they are subject to rounds of capital investment and flight (e.g. Harvey, 2000) and little imagination is needed to extend this to systems of physical commodities/networks that might be managed, designed, assembled or assorted in cities. Sheppard thus notes that the ‘socio-spatial dialectic’ (Sheppard, 2011, p. 321) is central to geographical political economy: “Firms co-evolve with places and territorial economies, are embedded in multi-scalar corporate and governance hierarchies, and stretch their relations across space through polyvalent networks” (p.326). While Sheppard’s use here includes many different networks (such as communication systems or social ties) it also includes production and consumption networks. This socio-spatial dialectic can be also be read into Doreen Massey’s concept of the spatial division of labour (Massey, 1984). She explores how divisions of labour are replicated, and locations depend on, but also reinforce, existing spatial divisions in labour markets (such as factory labour in industrial towns and management in central cities). Implicit in her account is that these divisions of labour are not only within firms, but also extend across the supply chains integrated within firms. The changing fate of regions is thus linked with the re-organization of supply chains (and vice versa). From here it is only a short step to considering divisions of labour across multi-firm supply chains maintained by relational contracts, e.g. just what are often studied as production and consumption networks. Geographical political economists have also extended socio-spatial dialectics to include relationships between the economy and nature. Harvey stresses a large city such as New York (with its numerous subway systems, freeways, food systems or flows of capital investment) contains “immense existing ecosystemic structures” (Harvey, 1993, p. 28). By this Harvey points to the significant two way relationship and interdependence between society and nature and the ways nature is transformed through human activity. He goes so far as to stress how such systems are a reworked form of ‘second nature’ (Harvey, 1993, p. 28, see also Smith, 1984, 1996), indicating both that nature is constantly being transformed by humans (rather than being ‘untouched’) but also that there is nothing unnatural about the myriad human-made networks that modify nature and embody resource flows. Erik Swyngedouw’s urban political ecology more explicitly links geographical political economy theorizing to commodities/networks (Swyngedouw, 2004a). Networks are not only the conduits through which nature is metabolized 27(as food, water, energy or other necessities and wants are brought from distant sites to consumers) but are themselves transformations of nature. As such “circulation of capital as value in motion is combined with metabolic transformations of socio-natures...New socio-natural forms are continuously produced as moments and things in this metabolic process” (Swyngedouw, 2004a, p. 16). Networks are socio-spatial processes that are never socially or ecologically neutral, but instead work as both enabling and disabling conditions with uneven results for different places and people. As Sheppard notes “commodity production entails the transformation of ‘natural resources’ (themselves a social construction) into other material and immaterial objects, whose production and exchange are believed to be profitable. Production is thus entangled with biophysical, social, political and cultural processes and presupposes” (Sheppard, 2011, p. 324). This includes the materiality of biophysical processes, “machines break down; waste is created; human bodies and minds are co-implicated and transformed” (Sheppard, 2011, p. 324). Part of political economic geographers’ treatment of space is an emphasis on the ways spatial categories are socially constructed, especially that of ‘scales’ such as the urban, regional, national and global. Harvey argues this is part of dialectical processes: “Space and time are neither absolute nor external to processes but are contingent and contained with them...processes do not operate in but actively construct space and time and in so doing define distinctive scales for their development” (Harvey, 1996, p. 53). Neil Brenner (not a geographer but who writes in this tradition and follows Harvey) emphasizes that scales are “tightly intertwined territorial-organizational arrangements that serve as "transmission devices" between localized, concrete forms of social action, national political-regulatory systems and the global space of abstract labor and the world market” (Brenner, 1998, p. 464). Brenner traces a broad process of rescaling in the long durée: Mercantilism in the 16th and 17th century was largely organized around the city-state as the basic territorial unit (as in Venice or Genoa); by the 20th century and especially in the Fordist - Keynesianism of the post-World War II era there was a centralized role for the territorial state and hence primacy of the national scale in organizing the economy; and by the end of the century there was a further reorganization with a decline of the national state as primary scale and a new role for both the global scale and cities. In the last two decades the social construction 28of scale has been a central debate in geography (see Cohen and McCarthy, 2014 for a recent review) and geographical political economists have consistently argued that scale is important for explanation (the urban operating very differently than the global, for instance) but that scale can also be disrupted and transformed. Literature on rescaling also notes a strong role for commodities/networks in the rescaling process. Brenner thus links the national state to “the construction of transportation infrastructures such as highways, canals, ports, tunnels, bridges, railroads, airports, and public transport systems; the management of public utilities and energy resources such as gasoline, electricity, and nuclear power, as well as water, sewage, and waste disposal systems; the subsidization of public housing, schools, universities, and other research facilities; the maintenance of communications networks such as postal, telephone, and telecommunications systems” (Brenner,1998, p. 469). Swyngedouw has more explicitly focused on the role of networks in these rescaling processes. Networks are simultaneously local and global (‘glocal’) and also subject to rescaling. The ‘global’ is made up of “proliferating networks and flows of money, information, commodities and people” (Swyngedouw, 2004b, p. 31) and “cities are dense networks of interwoven socio-spatial processes that are simultaneously human, material, natural, discursive, cultural, and organic” (Swyngedouw, 2004a, p. 9). In his study of Franco’s Spain, Swyngedouw shows how an interconnected system of irrigation and dams created a national-scale hydraulic system (Swyngedouw, 2007). Swyngedouw shows how networks contribute to and are transformed by the social construction of scale: The ‘nation’ was actively constructed through water networks and in the process water networks were transformed. 2.2.3 Contingency A further feature of geographical political economists work is a turn from grand theorizing to provide empirically supported and specific analysis and recognizes that social phenomena has contingent and specific aspects and cannot be simply read from templates describing deep social structure or the logics of capital. This calls for not only in situ analyses of actual social relations but also making links back to larger processes to show how they unfold in particular contexts. This can be seen in Jamie Peck’s ideas about variegation, which suggests attention be paid both 29to how discourses such as neoliberalism take on different meaning and are differentially applied in different times and locations (Brenner, et. al. 2010). However explaining local variation -- “a particularly economic-geographic task” (Peck, 2005, p. 159) -- also requires recognizing interconnection and family resemblance and so not simply celebrating contingency for its own sake. While we need to understand the specificity of networks, we also need to draw connections to see how they are examples of, and shaped in uneven ways by broader social processes. Bruce Braun has voiced this attention to specificity and contingency in a different way. Responding to what he feels is an overemphasis in Harvey on the logics of capital, he argues that capitalism is not “an all encompassing, ever-expanding system that engulfs all of nature and society within its logic” (Braun, 2006, p. 214). Rather, it is “local at all points, it exists as a series of links and interconnections composed of specific, situated practices such as trade organizations or financial markets” (Braun, 2006, p. 214). While the reproduction of value is central to capitalist commodities/networks there still exists the need to study specific networks to see how they are organized by people who unevenly personify drives for profit-making, and how their execution of their plans is shaped by a host of pre-existing and contingent factors such as institutions, the materiality of resources, the configuration of markets or the physical lay of the land. Braun thus cites Timothy Mitchell’s analysis in Rule of Experts (2002) of Ahmad ‘Abbud (a mid twentieth century Egyptian plantation owner and capitalist investor) (Mitchell, 2002, p. 31; Braun, 2006, p. 215). For Mitchell, ‘Abbud does not personify an abstract ideal of capital but rather a particular instantiation which is deflected by ‘Abbud’s personality, ambitions and cultural context. ‘Abbud’s actions and his investment logics depend on, and are influenced by the material realities and contingent outcomes of specific commodities/networks he invests in and controls, such as sugar and nitrate (for fertilizer). Exploration of commodities/networks is a way of showing the contingent and uneven ways that capitalism as a broadly penetrative social process take material form. 2.2.4 Change Finally, geographical political economy emphasizes both that social reality is subject to change and that this can include political mobilization to create a better world. This can be linked 30to the tradition’s institutionalism, that is, recognition of the important role of regulation, norms and built infrastructure in shaping the economy and in shaping change over time. It connects with the traditions roots in radical political philosophy and quest for social justice and is also supported by dialectics. This focus on change is highly relevant to the issue of regulation in commodities/networks because it goes to the heart of state and civil society interest in networks and the regulatory process. Generally, geographical political economy recognizes an important role for governance “given the complex ways in which states and markets are co-implicated” (Sheppard, 2011, p. 326). Because capitalism is seen as an incomplete and crisis prone system, geographical political economy particular focused on the many institutions of states that do the necessary repair way to ward off crisis, and which result, over time, in considerable variegation in the trajectory of capitalist development in different locales. While the next chapter focuses on diverse theories of regulation we can here note the emphasis geographical political economists have placed on change, examining the shifting regulatory architectures in advanced capitalist states such as the build up Keynesianism and Fordism from the 1930s to the 1970s and from the 1980s onward shifts towards market-oriented neoliberal policies. This analysis can be extended to particular networks. Swyngedouw (2004a) thus shows shifting paradigms for managing water systems over the long term globally and particularly in Quito, Ecuador. Karen Bakker has offered a detailed analysis of water privatization in England and Wales (2003) and in divers locales in the Global South (2010a). There is broad scope for examining the possibilities for new ideas and social movements to reshape production networks. Geographical political economy does not assume that such change should be directed exclusively towards facilitating economic development or that qualitative change should only be along the axis of a more equitable sharing of developments’ gains. It can recognize diverse voices calling for eco-social transformation. Geoff Mann has argued geographers should recapture the ‘ethico-political moment’ ask ‘how the world could be better’ and that doing so requires we ask “not just how the world came to be unjust, but also why—why it came to be this way, and why this way, morally, is unjust” (Mann, 2009, p. 343). Such 31explorations can include not only explaining the formation of particular networks but also exploring ideals for reworking particular networks to include greater public participation, attention to environmental and climate justice themes or calls to design networks so they fit within broader goals of bioregional or non-growth economies. Here, special attention can be paid to the institutions and organizations that shape networks, and how they can be changed to, in turn, change networks. This emphasis on social change is an important component of dialectics. As Harvey explains, because ‘things‘ are internally heterogenous they are subject to conflicting tendencies and transformation over time. As such “change is characteristic of all systems and all aspects of systems -- so change and instability are the norm -- persistence and equilibrium are not the natural state of things but require explanation” (Harvey, 1996, p. 55). Further this instability can also arise from the new ideas and social movements. Dialectical enquiry is itself a process that produces concepts, abstractions, theories and institutionalized structures of knowledge. Dialectics rejects the idea that there is a clear separation of subject and object, researcher and social agent. Instead, “I take in ideas and thoughts through listening and reading. I gain a sense of selfhood thereby but in the process reformulate and transform words and in projecting them back into society change the social world” (Harvey, 1996, p. 53-54). Harvey thus stresses that dialectics includes the exploration of possible worlds and potentials for change in diverse ethical, moral and political directions. In what follows I seek to contextualize many different accounts and theories of commodities and networks as entry points for grasping what are dynamic, complex and evolving systems and which might contribute methods to or help expand geographical political economy analysis of production and consumption networks. As will be further explored in sections on commodification (2.6) there are tensions in geographical political economy theorizing, because the possibilities for change in networks also challenge the idea that networks (and their regulation) can be explained through a unitary logic of capitalism.322.3 Biographies, Chains, Circuits and Networks In the last two decades there has been a tremendous growth in social science, journalist and civil society organization research into the complex geography and backstory of goods. The result has been a range of methodologies and theoretical interests which extend to both global and domestic commodities and offer divergent perspectival entry points. By the mid 2000s “narrating commodity stories about global resource flows has almost achieved the status of a genre” (Bakker and Bridge, 2006, p. 13). Much of this work, such as in World Systems Theory, linked long distance chains to the workings of the global economy in the long durée. Others, such as the ‘global commodity chains’ (GCCs) approach, drew on this to focus on how inter-firm networks connected manufacturers, suppliers and subcontractors in contemporary global capitalism: This approach was also concerned with contemporary development issues such as how to facilitate industrial upgrading to improve export earnings (as discussed in Bair, 2005). Some work in “global value chains” (GVCs) sought to add to commodity chains a sense of the role of how value was added at each step to help explain the political economy of unequal development. Other GVC affiliated researchers tacked closer to Michael Porter’s narrow developmentalist focus on upgrading of national capabilities (such as through moving from commodity production to manufacturing in division of labour of a chain) (as discussed in Bair, 2005). The result is that while some researchers seek broad historical and political economic contextualization, others aim for parsimony through focusing on issues of relational contracting and the role of powerful companies in organizing networks (Gereffi, 1994; Gereffi et. al., 2005, for critiques see Bair, 2005, 2008; Gibbon et. al., 2008). Commodity culture approaches have sought to add on to (but not thereby replace) concern with material histories by focusing attention on the meanings of commodities and how they create an interplay and thereby mediate between production and consumption. Production and consumption are not understood as opposite ends of a linear chain but rather as parts of ‘circuits’ in which there is continuous feedback. This draws attention to the discursive production of commodities, the ‘imaginaries’ that circulate within them and the role of consumers as participants in a relational process. Consumers are understood as motivated in part by how the 33circuit as a whole is represented (Leslie and Reimer, 1999; Bryant and Goodman, 2004; Hughes and Reimer, 2004). Analysis shifts to cultural difference and meaning and extends to breakfast cereal boxes (Bryant and Goodman, 2004), images of darkness and racial fear looming behind ads contrasting African conflict diamonds and pure Northern Canadian ones (Le Billon, 2006) or the “utopian Valley of the Jolly Green Giant” (Prudham, 2009, p. 134). Such work shifts attention from the role of producers: Consumer subjectivity becomes integral to the makeup of goods, and involves a complex interplay of societal values, consumer subjectivity and the actions of producers (Lovell et. al., 2009). In this way commodities/networks are no longer seen as exclusively driven by producers but also involve participation by consumers. Analysis thus extends, potentially, to the broad nexus of consumption practices. Such practices both shape networks (such as through influencing which goods consumers buy) and are shaped by networks (such as through product advertising or the material effects of dominant goods such as automobiles and television). The motif of the network has been a central metaphor through which researchers have sought to understand the combination of material, processes and culture involved in the production and consumption of goods. Indeed, the first such analysis by Thomas Hughes plays on the relationship of that metaphor to electric circuitry. In Networks of Power (1983) Hughes provides a comparative, institutional history of the early American, English and German electricity systems. He sets up a double meaning of networks. Electricity was both a physical network, but also a socio-technical system, co-produced through both technical and social components: These components are connected by a network, or structure, which for the student of systems may be of more interest than the components. The interconnected components of technical systems are often centrally controlled and usually the limits of the system are established by the extent of this control... Because the components are related by the network of interconnections, the state or activity, one component influences the state, or activity, of other components in the system. The network provides a distinctive configuration for the system (Hughes, 1983, p. 5). 34Edison oversaw the formation of that network, but a wide variety of persons and things contributed to making it possible. Hughes was an early precursor to the field of science and technology studies which continues to emphasize the social nature of technology and the intermingling of material objects, cultural values and social institutions. Actor Network Theory extended the network metaphor as a broad descriptor for diverse heterogenous and contingent arrangements of people and things. The network is seen as an alternative topological system in which elements are held together and retain their integrity in virtue of their position in a set of links and relationships. (In the following I use ‘actor-networks‘ to refer distinguish this broader idea of a network from the more specific use of ‘network’ for commodity systems. However, the concept of networks has become very pervasive and is used now --and in some of the quotes used in this thesis!--to refer to many different types of networks (such as communication networks or social networks). The identities and modes of calculation of agents are produced within actor-networks rather than being already made (for a redescription of Hughes’ work on these terms see T. Mitchell, 2008). Actor-networks are ‘assembled’, which indicates that they can come together through contingent and loose group action, or be the intentional object of strategy, calculation and struggle at central points of organization (Law, 1999; also see Whatmore and Thorpe, 1997, Raynolds, 2002; Hughes and Reimer, 2004). Diverse elements in such systems can keep them together and ensure their operation and ‘stabilize’ them -- including physical machines, capital investment, hard infrastructure, knowledge systems and documents, natural resources, legal codes, workers, consumers, managers and other people and things. Geographers Sarah Whatmore and Lorraine Thorpe reintroduced the network metaphor to describe long-distant and alternative commodities such as fair trade coffee as “intricate interweavings of situated people, artifacts, codes, and living things... particular tapestries of connection across the world” (Whatmore and Thorpe, 1997, p. 288). This creates a strong ethical dimension, highlighting how consumers engage in relationship and act at a distance, both contributing to but also potentially transforming distant wrongs. Consumers are engaged in complex ethical and political decision making (Barnett and Land, 2007; Barnett et. al., 2010). Others have suggested that the network metaphor can be combined with other commodity studies approaches: Alex Hughes and Suzanne Reimer (2004) 35suggest commodity culture, chain and network can be combined together to understand diverse commodities (both local and global) and to conceptualize the way different types of ‘nodes’ such as people, firms, states or organizations are connected through webs of interdependence. They suggest the term ‘commodity networks’. A number of writers have picked up the idea of a political ecology of commodity networks. Political ecology has traditionally been concerned with issues of resource conflict and the role of social structures (such as capitalist states and class divisions) in remaking nature in the Global South (Robbins, 2011). In some variants, such as ‘critical political ecology‘ it focuses on discourses of the environment and the theoretical underpinning of ecological research (Forsyth, 2003). Some work that links political ecology to commodity networks shows a concern with social and political conflict over resources, the operating of regulatory institutions in promoting diverse interests and the marginalized position of small producers (Armitage, 2002; Klooster, 2006, 2010). Others expand commodity cultures approaches to link the impacts that consuming practices in the North have for people and environments in the Global South and the use of imaginaries in distant places. They thus explore ‘rainforest friendly’ breakfast cereals (Bryant and Goodman, 2004), conflict free diamonds (Le Billon, 2006) or carbon offsets (Lovell et. al. 2009). The political ecology of commodities/networks is a relatively new area of research and there are many possibilities for novel forms of analysis. Also, there is a growing body of work extending political ecology to developed industrialized countries (as in Walker and Fortmann, 2003): This suggests the approach can be applied as much to networks situated in the Global North. Creative use can be made of emerging methodologies from resource management. Lifecycle analyses such as the ‘ecological footprint’ shows that the most rudimentary concern with the environmental effects of daily consumption and the economy more broadly requires tracing the materials, travel patterns and origins of goods (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996). Forms of environmental and social assessment can be performed at various points in the chain to show impacts and to analyze the trade offs implied by applying different principles for changing how networks operate (Winfield et. al., 2010; Butler, et. al., 2013). Stakeholder analysis seeks to 36document who uses, works with, are affected by, and take interest in networks, seeking to gauge their interests and goals (Barton and Fløysand, 2010). Networks may also be linked to the ecological impacts of global capitalism over the long term: Writers who link world-systems with ecology stress how global chains are vehicles for unequal ecological exchange leading to global environmental degradation (Jorgenson and Kick, 2003). As Erik Swyngedouw’s work on water systems in Quito, Ecuador suggests, it is possible to combine political ecology, geographical political economy and Actor Network Theory to study networks. In this way the study of networks (such as for water) becomes central to an urban political ecology that explores the city as a vast collection of metabolic flows that are shaped by histories of urban and national scale politics. The “Global Production Networks” (GPNs) framework developed by Neil Coe, Peter Dicken, Jeffrey Henderson, Martin Hess, Henry Wai-Chung Yeung and others has sought to provide a broad umbrella framework under which Actor Network, value chain, commodity chain, commodity cultures, and other approaches might be combined (Henderson et. al., 2002; Coe et. al., 2008). Original framers saw it as continuing the work of global commodity chains to understand the dynamics and consequences of uneven economic development in an emergent global space of flows. It would, however, offer a series of correctives. These included, inter alia, a greater attention to the organizational dynamics of transnational companies and their subsidiaries, a focus on the interaction between flows and places, attention to the spatial patterning of chain-related activities, a focus on the state as an agent of economic development and the varying policy regimes that impact on the chain at each of its nodal points. The GPN framework has been widely followed (see Coe, 2012 for a review). Two of the case studies in this thesis cite the GPN approach explicitly, drawing on its emphasis on culture, circuits, consumption and institutions. Other case studies in the thesis use underlying insights but do not name it explicitly. Here I want to discuss some of the pros and cons of this approach and argue how geographical political economy perspectives can both learn from but also offer a distinct theoretical framework from work in GPNs. I thus suggest that, geographical political economy suggests a more focused theorization, and offers a bridge for linking global networks and those that remain within a particular city, region or country. 37 GPN has come to operate as an umbrella framework in the sense that it allows diverse methodologies. This echoes a broad strategy used by theorists of heterodox economics who stress the strength of a coalition that can stand against neoclassical orthodoxy (Lee, 2006). This flexibility has meant that many writers have begun to work under it and to extend it in creative ways. While initially framed as oriented towards developmentalist themes (rather than environmental or social welfare considerations) work on ethical trade initiatives (previously done under the commodity networks label) (Hughes et. al., 2008) and industrial codes of conduct (Nadvi, 2008) point to closer consideration of possibilities for qualitative change in networks through regulation and civil society participation. Others, such as Ray Hudson, launched into creative theorizing using GPNs as a platform, seeking a cultural variation of a geographical political economy approach. While building on Marx’s idea of circuits of exchange value, Hudson emphasizes the role of semiotics in shaping networks, allowing that the ‘economic’ is in part constituted by discourse. Networks are seen as “constituted via a variety of flows (of capital in various forms such as commodities and money, knowledge and people) between a variety of nodes, sites and spaces (of production, exchange and consumption), with varying governance arrangements, both multi-scalar (supra-national, national, regional and urban) and non-scalar networked forms of governance” (Hudson, 2008, p. 422). They are to be seen through a variety of perspectives (or registers), as simultaneously political-economic, semiotic (or cultural) and material (as flows of resources and materials).This suggests a wide scope to incorporate political ecology themes. As will be discussed further in Chapter 3 David Levy also suggests taking up a neo-Gramscian analysis of regulatory institutions within GPNs (Levy, 2008). There are, however, a number of downsides to the GPN approach. It has not won over some writers: Jennifer Bair argues that in practice research “does not differ greatly from studies of global commodity chains” (Bair, 2005, p. 356) and that its best seen as “a complementary rather than a contending paradigm” (p. 357). Some writers work under the title of different approaches, depending on context (compare Nadvi, 2008 and Lund-Thomsen and Nadvi, 2010). More significantly, there are disadvantages to creating a unified but heterodox framework -- it flattens theoretical difference and obscures underlying theoretical contradictions. While the GPNs approach draw on “Marx’s definitive deconstruction and interrogation of the commodity” 38to focus on “the social processes involved in producing goods and services and reproducing knowledge, capital and labour power” (Henderson et. al., 2002 p. 444), it deviates from theoretical consistency through the catholic addition of diverse approaches. GPN work is linked to a broader ‘relational turn’ that stresses myriad social connections and entanglements but as Sunley (2008) has argued, “is evidently not a carefully defined analytical framework; instead, it is a loose assembly of theories and ideas that share some common features and articles of faith and differ in important respects” (p. 4). If poorly framed it can exclude key categories -- such as ‘local production networks’ which form an important contrast class and for which there an already rich literature of political economic and cultural analysis, especially in the areas of shifting regulatory paradigms and architectures. That said, and as the next section explores, these concerns might be met by a focus on how GPNs work has drawn on geographical political economy and could be given greater theoretical consistency by more explicit attention and adherence to that tradition. 2.4 Beyond the Global Production Networks Approach Many writers do implicitly or explicitly link GPNs to geographical political economy (Henderson et. al. 2002; Hudson, 2008; Glassman, 2011; Sheppard, 2011; Coe 2012) Such an approach can help bring insights from GPNs to geographical political economy, explore ‘local production networks’ as well as global ones (or ‘glocal’ in Swyngedouw’s terms--2004b) and renew GPNs as a framework. In the following I outline key ways in which the GPN approach faces problems due to its drive to include post-structuralist, relational and economic sociology ideas and how geographical political economy can provide correctives. A first set of concerns relate to whether Actor Network Theory oriented research and political economy can be reconciled. In some guises, ANT is disdainful of broad political economic theorization, seeking instead to trace connections between relationally intwined actants that make up actor-networks (Latour, 2005).Within geographical research this often takes the form of distinct camps, with ANT influenced researchers and political economists taking on distinct concerns. There is, however, considerable possibilities for a meeting point on this issue. Some ANT scholars, such as John Law do recognize the importance of politics and frame it in 39terms of conflicts of ‘modes of ordering’. For Law, participants in networks may often disagree over the configurations of the actor-networks they participate in. He studies how scientists in research laboratories differ over their collective purpose, institutional design and research output (Law, 1994). Alternatively, many writers in the geographical political economy tradition share with ANT a materialist, relational ontology and, as discussed above (in sec. 2.2) a desire to show the specificity of economic processes. Noel Castree suggests there is considerable room for a meeting point between geographical materialism and ANT in which both sides “split the difference” (Castree, 2002, p. 123). On this approach ANT is softened to acknowledge that generalizations can be made across different actor-networks, recourse can be made to background social forces with widespread effects, and that capitalism can be directly named as a process that is embedded in and transforms natural and human systems. Geographical political economy is also softened, in that “this all does not mean that natural entities are mere putty in the hands of capital. Rather, they are necessary and active moments in a continuous process of circulation and accumulation. ...the material effects that “natural” entities have upon capital accumulation are variable and contingent, but rarely passive” (Castree, 2002, p. 139). For Castree, analysis of commodity networks helps give materiality to geographical political economy claims: ”the ‘thing’ we call capitalism is constituted by hundreds of thousands of commodity networks, which mix different people, machines, codes and artifacts in often unique ways” (p. 140) . Swyngedouw (2004a, 2006) offers a similar analysis, stressing that commodities/networks embody “circulation of capital as value in motion” (Swyngedouw, 2004a, p. 16). Hudson (2005) asserts that both ANT and geographical political economy approaches “conceptualize the economy as always a product of interaction between heterogenous networks of people, nature (both animate subjects and animate objects) and things -- of relationships between the social and the natural” (Hudson, 2005, p.11). Here we can restate the focus on contingency and specificity that makes geographical political economy amenable to the exploration of specific institutional configurations and modes of ordering of networks. As Braun (2006) argues capitalist logics can be seen as personified in particular persons, who execute plans 40through designing, gaining control and altering a myriad of material systems including commodities/networks. Second, there is an issue concerning the breadths of the GPN mandate. How is it possible to make generalizations across thousands of different commodities? Attention to biophysical idiosyncracies, and the distinct geographies, cultures and technologies of different actor-networks would suggest significant conceptual challenges in comparing or making broad claims that are true of all of, say, bamboo, smart phones, cars and coal. Here Jamie Peck’s idea of variegation can play an important role. A whole series of interconnections exist between different production and consumption networks. These include (admittedly varying) logics of capital investment, which are realized through business managers who often work with many different production and consumption networks simultaneously (such as in large diversified firms) or along the course of their careers, and who share expertise (such as business school training). It is also possible to see how commodities respond similarly to market dynamics, such as price reductions due to competition. There are also marked similarities in legal and regulatory controls -- property and contract law is often functionally very similar amongst North Atlantic states and their former colonies (e.g. almost everywhere) and there is an international lex mercatoria governing trade (Cutler, 2003). While state public law intervention can offer vary (rules for European electricity trade are very different from those for North American beef trade) there are often interconnections such as shared instruments (such as marketing boards, tariffs or certification), expertise and training (of regulatory lawyers) or global advocacy networks in areas such as human rights and the environment. As work in policy mobilities suggests discourses (such as neoliberalism or sustainability) can develop, spread and be differentially applied in ways that come to reshape and thereby create connections between what otherwise might appear to be distinct economic domains (Peck and Theodore, 2010; Peck 2011). A third set of concerns relate to ambiguities in GPN work due to their use of overlapping ideas of networks. So far, this thesis has focused on the concepts developed by Thomas Hughes and Actor Network Theory, that of a socio-technical system and assemblage of diverse components. However, alternative meanings of ‘networks’ in transaction cost economics and 41economic sociology are at times incorporated into value chain and GPN work. Transaction cost economics, associated with Oliver Williamson, had argued that pure market transactions (such as one-off exchanges between arms length rational actors) face various frictions of information and time. This led to a form of institutional analysis that focuses on the formation of regulatory institutions to help respond to informational and coordination failures. It also led to a concept of a ‘network’ as a middle ground between hierarchy and markets, that is, as forms of long term contractual relationships that bind firms together (Williamson, 2008). This can be brought to bear on commodity chains: In some formulations of GVCs there is an emphasis on the relational coordination of buyers and suppliers that emerge in cases of informational complexity that is difficult to codify (Gereffi et. al., 2005). This retains a methodological individualism and belief in the rational (but informationally constrained) actor that deeply conflicts with dialectical, relational approaches and provides little space for discussion of culture, context, power relations or uneven development. It remains a plausible hypothesis for the formation of some long term relational contracting in supply systems, but that is a small part of what needs explaining. A further sense of the term ‘network’ is associated with Mark Granovetter’s economic sociology. Granovetter’s work arose in response to, and retains much of, the micro-social orientation of transaction-cost economics. It seeks to replace an under-socialized conception of human action with a fuller account of interpersonal relations between economic actors. It seeks to include analysis of the role of the social obligations and expectations in constraining malfeasance and guiding economic transactions. This in turn leads to concrete analysis of the systems of social relations that accompany economic activity (Granovetter, 1985). Certainly, this type of social network analysis can be overlaid onto supply chains as a further layer and production and consumption networks do at times involve social relations, trust and information sharing (Bair, 2008). Some accounts of commodities/networks do explicitly work with these accounts. Non-governmental organizations and diverse stakeholders participate in transforming some commodities such as Forest Stewardship Council wood, and these groups can be characterized and analyzed as production network affiliated social networks (Tollefson et. al., 2008). As such, they contribute to ‘communities of practice’ that build up knowledge and expertise (Bentley and Smith, 2010). GPNs appear to incorporate this idea in the term ‘network 42embeddedness’ (Henderson et. al., 2002, p. 453). While rather vaguely defined, it includes reference to “the degree of connectivity within a GPN” and “the stability of its agents’ relations” (ibid.) However, political economy oriented researchers have sought to maintain some distance from micro-social approaches because they tend to evict analyses of power and background political economic context (Peck, 2005; Bair, 2005; Sunley, 2008; Bair, 2008). While theorists such as Granovetter claim to be reintroducing the social they do so in ways that preclude precisely what political economy takes as central: “Homo economicus has more of a social life but he certainly has not been put to death” (Peck, 2005, p. 142). As such, this work often neglects systemic impacts of capitalist pressures and market forces (Sunley, 2008, p. 5). Alternatively, geographical political economy approaches can make use of methodologies for micro-social analysis, but, unlike much economic sociology that takes such analysis as central, they should not sideline the broader contextual analysis provided by traditions of comparative political economy, varieties of capitalism and extensions of Marx which seek to understand macro-institutional structures. A fourth area of contention is that micro-social analyses (whether undertaken in Actor Network Theory or economic sociology traditions) can contribute to network essentialism -- an exclusive focus on the network rather than its relationships to places and territories and attention to the scales through which it passes (Jessop et. al., 2008). Global Production Network theorists attempt in part to bypass concerns about essentialism through an explicit concern with place-based institutions and a concept of ‘territorial embeddedness” which emphasizes how commodities/networks “absorb, and in some cases become constrained, by the economic activities and social dynamics that already exist in those places” (Henderson et. al., 2002, p. 452). However this idea remains relatively undeveloped in the literature, and falls short of fully articulating the ongoing dialectical relationship between networks and the places they traverse. Indeed, the very idea of dialectics suggests that ‘things’ operate within broader structured systems or ‘wholes’ and involve processes and relations whereby thing and structured system are mutually constituted (Harvey, 1996, p. 50). Others, however, have focused on how this aspect 43of the socio-spatial dialectic can relate to networks. Jessop, Brenner and Jones (2008) suggest a focus on the network or on the places they touch can serve as entry points for a multi-spatial analysis (Jessop et. al., 2008). An analysis of networks can then emphasize the network itself, or, alternatively focus on the relationship of places to networks. Jim Glassman (2011) emphasizes how over time long-term and durable networks such as for sugar and cotton have preceded and informed the development of colonies and nation-states, and “networks are best seen as produced by agents that straddle, and simultaneously produce, both states and markets” (Glassman, 2011, p. 157). Jennifer Bair and Marion Werner’s account of ‘disarticulation’ (developed under a global commodity chain framework) stresses that chains may arrive but also leave particular places, producing histories not only of chronic underdevelopment but of successive network flight (Bair and Werner, 2011). If networks are understood as always in relationship to broader contexts, researchers can focus on the interaction of networks and context, and that can include a focus on places where networks often leave. Much of the shift in geography towards talk of networks is part of a general turn away from structuralist political economy and an emphasis on fluidity, flux and the shifting configurations of actor-networks. However, this has been met by a concern that structure has been abandoned (as critiqued in Sunley, 2008). Geographical political economy should not be identified as a static, structuralist account. As noted above, many writers do consider how consumer concern and culture shapes the economy and particular networks (c.f. Prudham, 2009 for an overview). More generally, there are many efforts to combine a recognition of the changing contours of the economy, the conditions for and process of change, and the consolidation of relatively stable institutions. In particular, and as will be explored in Chapter 3 and Chapter 8, geographical political economy can take on Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum’s Cultural Political Economy and in so doing stress the role of discourses, think tanks and civil society in transforming economic institutions and organizations. As Sunley has argued, Harvey’s dialectics provides a theoretical antidote to approaches that over emphasize either structure or agency: “While it is formally true that everything can be reduced to flows we are in daily practice surrounded by things, institutions, discourses and even states of mind of such relative permanence and power that it would be foolish not to acknowledge those evident 44qualities” (Harvey, 1996, pp. 7–8, cited in Sunley, 2008, p. 15). Harvey stresses that there is “an interplay as process and relations become crystalized into structured systems” (p. 54). Even if “persistence and equilibrium are not the natural state of things” (Harvey, 1996, p. 54) they are also phenomena that “require explanation” (ibid). Context and place can form relatively durable backgrounds that shape networks, which in turn are structured by diverse regulatory institutions and more or less durable management techniques and strategies. The above suggestions point to there being ample room for a geographical political economy informed approach to commodities/networks. It can explore local and global networks, consider the role of nature, regulatory institutions, labour and other elements that make up socio-technical market complexes guided by the search for profits. Networks are seen as shaping and being shaped by the many contexts they pass through. Because networks are always entangled with natural environments, a geographical political economy comes to merge with political ecology. To more fully explore such an approach I now turn to showing how it differs from research in sustainable production and consumption and offers unique angles on problems of commodification.2.5 Sustainable Production and Consumption Systems A geographical political economy/political ecology of commodities/networks can be compared to a parallel program in “sustainable production and consumption systems” (“sustainable PCSs”). This takes its lead from United Nations processes that followed after the 1992 Rio Summit. Agenda 21 included reference to sustainable consumption and production and there are scattered examples of governments following this mandate and creating programs to promote sustainable production and consumption. For the most part these feature cleaner production techniques (such as new industrial technologies and processes) and regulatory interventions such as carbon taxes or increasing consumer access to information. After the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the “Marrakesh Process” was created to both further the agenda as well as empower researchers to study it (Tukker et. al., 2008; Pogutz and Micale, 2011). The idea of sustainable PCSs research is to analyze how production and consumption are integrated in particular commodity networks and proponents cite literature in 45geography and agro-food systems using ‘chain’ and ‘network’ terminology (Lebel and Lorek, 2008). Proponents of this research program argue that such approaches “would not replace the vast set of experiences and efforts with sector, place, product and consumer-oriented approaches to sustainability, but they would provide an important complement offering a more integrative and systemic view” (Lebel and Lorek, 2010, p. 3). It remains a small research project, with an introductory article (Lebel and Lorek, 2008) and a book of collected articles by diverse writers (Lebel and Lorek, 2010). Nevertheless it provides an example of how proponents of sustainability approach issues contemplated in this thesis. Sustainable PCS research was introduced primarily as a ‘how to’ approach, suggesting a focus on identifying levers “to improve performance in the direction of sustainability” and showing how levers “can exist at diverse locations along chains” (Lebel and Lorek, 2010, p. 3). Examples include: Industrial ecology for ‘closing loops’ to find ways to reduce resource flows and waste; ‘codesign’ in which consumers participate in product design; extended producer responsibility where producers are forced to integrate consideration of waste processes in product design; the intentional designing of goods to more efficiently deliver the services consumer’s need rather than physical objects for possession; and eco-labels. It can draw on diverse forms of consumer behaviour, movements towards simpler lifestyles, consumption related educational campaigns or firm marketing that encourage new forms of reflection on the life histories and effects of goods (Lebel and Lorek, 2008). It thus canvasses diverse efforts under state, academic and non-governmental organization programs many of which also use concepts of sustainable consumption and sustainable production and take their lead from Agenda 21. In this thesis I share with sustainable PCSs an interest in using social science methodologies to understand the workings of existing commodities/networks that have been labelled (for whatever reason and by diverse actors) as ‘sustainable‘. However, political economy oriented geographers have argued that sustainability and sustainable development are fraught terms and not politically neutral (Mansfield, 2009). Dominant interpretations, especially those enshrined in the Bruntland Report and United Nations instruments, reflect the doctrine of 46liberal environmentalism, asserting the compatibility of environmental concern, economic growth, the basic tenants of a market economy and a liberal international order (Bernstein, 2001). This is reflected in normative framing of the sustainable production and consumption program which affirms environmental economists ideas of utility and market based growth -- “transformation of energy and materials that maintains or improves human well-being (or utility) without irreversibly reducing environmental resources” (Lebel and Lorek, 2008, p. 15). Alternatively, many critical geographers have read sustainability as articulated with neoliberalism in the sense of favouring market-based solutions and avoiding where possible the coercive arm of the state (c.f. Keil, 2007; Brand, 2007). There is a longstanding tradition of equating sustainability with a broader trend of ecological modernization, that is, as taking an affirmative view of capitalist processes, increasing technological innovation and giving a strong role for firms to help design policy solutions (Hajer, 1995). Geographers thus often equate sustainability as an essentially capitalist project (Bakker, 2010b). It can be compared with more explicitly social justice or biocentric readings of nature-society relations. Social justice approaches often call for broad transformations in societal institutions, twinning environmental change with wealth distribution and a changed role for the state, and recognize non-industrial ways of life and all people’s well-being. Biocentric approaches emphasize hard targets in areas like carbon emissions and seek to preserve diverse ecosystems. Both approaches see these goals as more important than, and often incompatible with, sustaining capitalist institutions and growth dynamics. I agree with criticisms of sustainability that link it to a modest reform project but would add that it can also be seen as a distinct policy paradigm -- a strategic project for transforming economy and society which should be studied from development, dissemination and application. It arose from international diplomatic attempts to coral and fuse multiple contradictory streams of social justice, environmentalism, anti-colonialism and Saint Simonian developmentalism (Harlow et. al., 2013) .Once it left the relatively controlled space of international norm construction it was creatively interpreted in many ways, ranging from an explicit affirmation of multinational corporate practices to utopian and radical political philosophies (Mebratu, 1998; 47Robinson, 2004). The result is that “people in specific contexts interpret sustainability on their own terms” (Mansfield, 2009, p. 46) often “as a materialization of dominant institutional ideologies supportive of growth and capital accumulation that maintains the existing status quo of class inequalities, with limited regard to the environment” (Gunder, 2006, p. 209). Political ecology/geographical political economy also provides alternative methodologies for analyzing particular instances of sustainable production and consumption networks. In some cases there is an overlap of methodologies between these geographic perspectives and work under the sustainable PCSs agenda -- both might combine value chain and resource management frameworks such as lifecycle analysis, environmental assessment or tradeoff analysis (for PCS work see, for shrimp aquaculture, Giap, 2010; for coffee Tucker, 2010; for biofuels, Daniel et. al., 2010). In other cases there will be marked differences. PCSs research at times draws on environmental economics (Shamsub, 2010). However, and as Sheppard (2011) notes, a defining feature of geographical political economy is its split from the assumptions of methodological individualism, market equilibrium and the prioritization of exchange value of classical and neoclassical economics schools (Sheppard, 2011, p. 320). Some PCSs research draws on the ideals of sustainability transitions, arguing that particular systems such as organic food or renewable energy are examples of niches which reflect sustainability values and engage consumers in exercising citizen-style action and which might be scaled up (Reusswig, 2010; Tukker, 2010; Nölting, 2010). Alternatively, a number of environmental geographers have argued that sustainable transitions should be conceptualized as political projects, open to contestation and debate but charged with dynamics of power (Demeritt, 2011; Lawhon and Murphy, 2012; Bulkeley et. al., 2013). Despite these differences, a political ecology of commodities/networks can draw from some insights of the sustainable PCS literature. The emphasis on ‘levers’ for transformation points to an analysis of the various institutions and organizations which structure networks but also might provide avenues for change. Seeing consumer choices in the supermarket as a ‘lever’ for changing networks crucially shifts the perspective from the first person perspective of consumers to one concerned with managing -- or regulating -- systems with many participants. It 48invites deliberation of the shared values that can drive collective mobilization to transform such systems. It helps see how ‘levers’ are linked to novel forms of regulation: Non-governmental organizations may also engage in regulation as they mobilize consumer concern or public attention through shame and blame campaigns or go straight to the head offices of lead firms to negotiate changes to projects, new codes of conduct, industry wide agreements, or certification systems. This points to an institutional analysis that considers the role of the state, law and non-state actors in governing commodities as networks. However, rather than rendering technical and deferring to ‘decision-makers’, ‘levers’ should be understood as particular instruments (means), to be guided by broader visions (ends). In turn, the choice of ends is a political issue -- different strategic projects advance distinct ends -- and the result is confrontation and dialogue. So far, the levers and principles advanced under the rubric of sustainability policy have been relatively limited, excluding many of the broader eco-social imaginaries (such as social justice and biocentric visions) and instruments such as collectivizing (rather than individualizing) consumption, state ownership, cooperatism, and direct participation in management and system design.2.6. Commodification A number of geographical political economists have been particularly attentive to the issue of what makes commodities particularly capitalist commodities and the processes whereby nature becomes an object for sale on markets (for reviews see Castree, 2003; Prudham, 2009). This work stresses that the search for profits leads to the reorganization of production and prioritization of exchange value as commodity processes are remade to fit with the dynamics of capitalist markets. It thus stresses there are important differences between non-market provisioning, non-capitalist (‘petty’ or ‘simple’) commodity production, and capitalist commodification. The latter features a generalized system in which almost all aspects of daily provisioning are supplied through competitive markets paid for in money through wages from commodified labour. However, a focus on the institutions and organizations of production networks, especially those that seek to incorporate concepts of sustainability, offers some challenges to commodification theory (and geographical political economy’s use of such theory). 49For this focus points to the endemic incompleteness of capitalist commodification and the emergence of variegated commodification. Sustainable commodities not only promise new ways to regulate and so transform commodities/networks but also foreground the problematics of how commodities/networks have previously been regulated and gaps in those systems. While sustainable commodities still feature a strong role for exchange value, they also involve forms of regulation that offer (even if, at times only very modest forms of) shifts towards incorporating other concerns. The result is changes to how commodification occurs and how it is regulated. Geographers that work in Marxist traditions have tended to operate with what we can refer to as a “form analysis” -- they seek to analyze a unitary logic implicit in the very idea of monetary exchange and they ways it implies that qualitatively distinct things are rendered equivalent and exchangeable. As Noel Castree argues, “The question, therefore, is not ‘what is a commodity?’ but rather ‘what kind of characteristics do things take on when they become commodities?”(Castree, 2003). Commodification can then be described as a process distinct from the thing commodified, but which affects them. While the making of commodities is constantly undergoing changes through new technologies, work processes, sources for materials, or location of production, the movement of goods into the commodity form signals a broad change--goods are now produced for sale in markets. Form analysis then analyzes what is assumed to now be fixed in this process -- the underlying logics implicit in the sale of goods for money. For instance, exchange is said to involve a process of abstraction whereby the specificity of a thing (such as a particular forest) is lost. This is then posited as the underlying driver for corporate and state practices such as the ecologically reductive Normalbaum that best facilitates profit-oriented timber extraction (Prudham, 2009). The legal theorist Margaret Radin has used such form analysis to show limits to the moral acceptability of some types of commodification. The idea of a trade in body organs, for instance, implies that organs are fungible, and so conflicts with commonly held norms of bodily integrity -- “it detaches from the person that which is integral to the person” (Radin, 1996, p. 88). Commodification may thus run counter to our moral intuitions. 50 However, form analysis faces significant limitations because it presupposes an abstract (and unchanging) model of market exchange. Here a series of arguments by scholars in the realist and critical legal studies tradition are highly relevant -- focused as they are on the relationship between private law and public interest regulation. To give some precision to the commodity form they focus on the structure of laws that enable and frame markets. The Soviet jurist Evigny Pashukanis (1923) was the first to make this move. He identified the commodity form with private law and the minimalist state as its guardian. The state and law, he argued, are oriented towards upholding the laws of property (ownership), contract (exchange) and the legal subject (subjectivity) that enable commodity exchange. It was necessary to show how the private law system was not a self-justified system but instead an effect of capitalism as a social process (see also Anderson and Greenberg, 1983; Jessop 1990; Head, 2004). The critical legal scholar Duncan Kennedy reiterates this move, arguing “what makes a commodity a commodity is independence, a separateness, individuality or privateness not in a physical, but in a legal sense.... What is important about the commodity system is its legal structure, rather than the physical or technological arrangement of the productive process” (Kennedy, 1985, p. 977). Phrasing the issue in this way calls for a substitution of an abstract formal analysis with an account of the actual legal and extra-legal regulatory structures that help shape markets. This, however, reveals a deep problematic -- shared by classical, neoclassical and Marxist economic schools. Both Marx and Pashukanis differed from nineteenth century jurists that the law was justified as an expression of universal principles, but they implicitly accepted the idea that the law (and by extension ownership and exchange) could be understood as system of internally consistent unchanging abstract principles for private ordering. Nineteenth century liberal theory had conceived of private law as an independent and self-contained area, far from legislative influence and marking out a sphere of negative freedom. However, late twentieth century legal historians such as Patrick Atiyah have shown that judges and legal scholars at the time were highly influenced by classical economics and its use of an unspecified and abstract idea of exchange (Atiyah, 1979; Kennedy, 1985). The result was that judges (and at times legislators) changed the law to reflect these assumptions: “Primarily, it depended on economic assumptions about equilibrium in market processes (with entrepreneurial freedom and consumer 51sovereignty)” (Habermas, 1996, p. 400). This legal imaginary implied that issues of managing, designing and shaping commodity processes would fall entirely on private sector firms and consumer choice. However, by the 1920s this was challenged by social welfare paradigms in both Europe and the United States which rejected the tacit assumptions of the liberal private law model. They saw “the relation between private and political autonomy no longer as an opposition but as a nexus of reciprocal connections” (Habermas, 1996, p. 397). American legal realists such as Wesley Holfield, Morris Cohen and Robert Hale argued that private law of property and contract were not self executing concepts but had to be understood as state activity legitimately open to being changed to reflect shifting public interest values (See Rittich, 2003, chapter 4, for an overview of this movement, also Mansfield, 2008, for a geographers discussion concerning property law). Realist legal scholarship and the social welfare model helped support a rising tide of employment standards and state development projects as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. In Germany public law was given priority in the Constitution during the Weimar Republic and reconfirmed after the Second World War (Habermas, 1996). Kennedy draws on realist scholarship to argue that the idea of the commodity form, largely a mirror of classical economic theorizing, is ‘hopelessly imprecise’ (Kennedy, 1985, p. 1000). Instead, he suggests, we need a fuller accounting of the actual rules which underlie commodity production and which are changed and deflected in new directions as part of “a moving project” (at p. 997). There is, however, another possible answer to the problem Kennedy raises. We can look to the actual regulatory apparatuses surrounding commodity systems. His analysis points to the conclusion that the ‘commodity form’ is no less than the totality of the regulatory apparatus that shapes a particular commodity/network in a specific conjuncture. The emergence of the welfare model does not mean that the commodity form disappears, but rather that it becomes variegated, changing under different types of economies (with, for instance, Canada and Germany having different horizontal regulation) and for different goods (with the total network regulation in Canada coming to take on different aspects for water, electricity or socks).52 The legal theorist Margaret Radin has voiced a similar issue in different terms. She argues that various forms of social regulation involve ‘incomplete commodification’ which she defines in terms of how they “do not fully exhibit the typical indicia of traditional property and contract” (Radin, 1996, p. 20). Instead, policies “reflect contested concepts and internally plural meanings” (Radin, 1996, p. 103). It is simplistic to think our social policy choices exist as a binary of complete commodification (e.g. laissez faire nineteenth century formalism) or complete noncommodification. As such, “ Debates about some kinds of regulation can be seen as contested incomplete commodification... Residential rent control, minimum-wage requirements, and other forms of price regulation, as well as residential habitability requirements, safety regulation, and other forms of product-quality regulation all become contests over the issue of commodification” (Radin, 1996, p. 21). Radin’s concept of incomplete commodification helps explain many grey areas for which the binary of complete commodification v. noncommodification is unhelpful, and helps show how commodification becomes variegated. Canadian large scale hydro-electricity production, for instance, departs from laissez faire because it is owned by the state and subject to extensive planning, environmental and price regulation. However it emerged in part from pre-existing electricity systems designed to operate in free markets, still uses elements of the property and contract system, and still works with economies of scale and wholesale conversions of ecosystems in the quest for cheap price to provide inputs for private sector industrial manufacturing (Forschauer, 2000). At the other end of the spectrum, much of our provisioning occurs outside of the formal capitalist economy whether this be in the ‘care economies’ of the home, or service provision in the non-profit sector (Williams, 2005; Gibson-Graham, 2006; Fraser, 2014). Yet these interactions may well involve forms of exchange for money and services and use physical goods that originate from capitalist industry. Further, commodification is ‘leaky’ (Henderson, 2004; Prudham, 2009): Objects routinely pass out of the commodity form, as when previously bought goods are gifted to friends or donated to food banks. Incomplete commodification also helps make sense of some moral dilemmas that the tight binary might otherwise impose. As cultural geographers have stressed, there are positive aspects of consumption and there are dangers of smuggling into analysis a blanket condemnation of the 53practices of using and exchanging commodities (Jackson, 1999, Jackson, 2002) Many theorists maintain a concern with social justice but contend that there are (at least some) morally positive dimensions to markets--they may be intertwined with forms of social connection, trust or friendship or offer forms of emancipation to groups seeking to flee oppressive rural communities or gender roles (Williams and Zelizer, 2005; Fraser, 2012). There are also significant questions concerning whether a complex economy might be successfully coordinated without markets of any form or whether forms of socialized markets might be a better option (Elson, 2000). A flat out prohibition on the commodification of nature amounts to either calls for an unlikely utopia or, more likely, an injunction against the provision of human needs from ecosystems, amounting to an untenable “romantic ecofundamentalist perspective” (Fraser, 2012, p. 11). Radin’s approach can help show how some debates around commodification and sustainable commodities boil down to an issue of classification. Julie Guthman (2008) argues that certification systems such as for organic food do represent instances of commodification, using a straightforward formalist analysis. She looks for and finds the necessary indicia--private sector provisioning through markets, with property rights, rents through scarcity and individual consumer choice. This overlooks what is different about sustainable commodities, (and which leads to much positive evaluation of them) namely the way they do (selectively) incorporate environmental and social values often missing from market exchange. John Vail (2009) provides an analysis that is the mirror image: These goods are examples of decommodification, read as a broad unifying program that unites diverse social movements and causes “that challenge and limit the scope of commodification by fencing-off non-market spheres from market encroachments”, contributes to “increasing the provision of public goods”, “enhancing social protection”, and seeks to “ promote democratic control over the market” (Vail, 2009, p. 312-3). However, this overlooks just the points Guthman raises-- many of these initiatives are already part of mixed but still very capitalist economies and can involve returns on capital, private ownership and still very real forms of exploitation (such as the poor wages paid to farm workers on organic farms). Fridell (2007) provides a more nuanced argument: Fair trade still represents commodification because the issue is whether a certain (quite strict) threshold for decommodification has been met, that of “production in a democratic and consciously regulated 54process in which both producers and consumers are involved and are accountable for the decisions they make” (Fridell, 2007, p. 93). Some forms of fair trade coffee, Fridell argues, may legitimately challenge some principles of capitalism or introduce new forms of moral economy but they still far short of the ideals of workers’ self-management and control over the production process, communal ownership of property and collective regulation of resources and the social co-ordination of economic life in a democratic and participatory process. Sustainable commodities, it would seem, cannot be placed at either end of what is best thought of as a spectrum between complete commodification (pure laissez faire) or utopian forms of complete noncommodification. Sustainable commodities represent new directions by which commodification is variegated. Merely identifying commodification, then, says very little about how it is structured because it is often incomplete in Radin’s sense. This points to the need for a substantive analysis of the relationship between what Neil Fligstein calls the ‘architecture of markets’ (Fligstein, 2001) and the biographies of commodities, their physical makeup and the dynamic of their operation in markets over time. Building on Pashukanis’s early entry as framing a broad problem area, we need to trace how the state, law (and regulation), ownership, exchange, subjectivity and ‘things’ (and the processes behind products) are transformed in reciprocal relationship under different conjunctures. Recognizing these varieties of commodification does not preclude also showing what still connects them (hence, also, variegation). We can also work with an analysis of tendential forces that arise from capitalist social relations and at times push regulatory compromises in the direction of complete commodification. Indeed, some neoliberal experiments such as wetland banking (Roberston, 2006) may exemplify this precisely because it revives nineteenth century formalist thinking in a new guise. However, the degree to which such tendencies are also met by other social forces such as civil society pushback and state logics needs to be determined on a case by case basis in particular regulatory compromises. Karl Polanyi is often identified with substantive analyses and his idea of ‘fictitious commodities’ captures the way land (or nature) does not come on the scene as always already a commodity but rather exists prior to being commodified and is subject to processes of 55conversion. For Polanyi this is always an incomplete and contradictory process giving rise to forms of societal resistance. Markets are thus replete with dilemmas which require the state to step in and resolve, even if doing so only leads to stop gap measures which last only for a short time (Peck, 1996, chapter 2). The result is an ever shifting relationship of societies and markets from laissez-faire to social democracy and other forms. Taking up Polanyi’s theorization, Scott Prudham offers an example of a geographical political economy informed substantive analysis. He examines how forests are transformed into lumber through combinations of state licensing, resource management regimes, environmental protection laws and corporate management practices for forestry exploitation (Prudham, 2005). Here, commodification processes are seen not simply as the workings of a ‘pure’ capitalism, but shift as part of interactive processes between firms, the state, markets, diverse stakeholders such as unions, local communities and environmental organizations, technological development, and the biophysical properties of nature. However, there is a need to extend such substantive analyses beyond the nodal point where nature is converted into fictitious commodities (e.g. in forest licensing, management regimes and sawmills): Analysis needs to extend to the broader ongoing processes and institutions which shape the ‘thing’ in a dynamic and interrelation process that includes multiple nodes along the network. Many sustainable commodities promise to create shifts away from complete capitalist commodification to reintroduce non-economic use values. This changes the analytic game, demanding of researchers (and everyone) that they investigate not simply the process behind products but the processes and conceptual framings behind the regulation of the processes behind products. We need to understood processes of legitimation, consumer buy in, and the sensuous, psychological and moralistic appeal of these new goods and so the reasons for their expansion. Precisely what this demands is avoiding a simplistic account of commodification that is so rigid it shatters at the smallest fig leafs firms provide to civil society actors. Likewise, we need to avoid swinging all the way over towards celebrating these systems as alternatives to a straw man of complete commodification. Some early work on fair trade coffee seemed to do that -- arguing that it represents “mode of ordering of connectivity” in which “ stories are told of partnership, alliance, responsibility and fairness” (Whatmore and Thorpe, 1997, p. 295, for similarly positive 56accounts see Raynolds, 2002; Barham, 2003). There are positive aspects to these production and consumption networks but substantive analysis also needs to be brought to bear to consider how these operate as systems, and how framing institutions (such as certification standards) prioritize some ethical principles over others and involve a series of pragmatic (and often unappetizing) compromises. We also need to recognize not only that the incorporation of greater ethical concern can legitimate the expansion of commodification but in doing so also gain the support of many political actors (such as environmental organizations). In the case of Forest Stewardship Council wood in British Columbia, the proposal to use that system, rejecting as it does the Normalbaum in favour of eco-system based management, has been a central lever in facilitating the expansion of logging into contested regions such as the Great Bear Rainforest (Dempsey, 2011, p. 216; McDermott, 2012). This points to the need for a close analysis of both regulatory processes in networks, but also theories of regulation in networks. The next chapter directly addresses this issue.2.7 Conclusion? This chapter has approached the question ‘what is a commodity’ through considering a geographical political economy approach and its relationship to a large and disparate group of approaches for studying commodities/networks. Amongst these approaches there has been a widespread recognition of the idea of a ‘chain’ that links natural resource extraction, production, distribution, retail consumption and waste. The metaphor of a ‘network’ has also become popular given its ability to show the circuitous interconnections in the chain, and role of culture. Commodities/networks can be analyzed in many ways, including resource flows, capital investment, added value, geographic spread, power between different firms, forms of state regulation, interests of stakeholders, ‘imaginaries’ of distinct places and ethical modes of ordering that unite consumers and producers in realizing alternative economic models. Networks can be changed, not only in virtue of the strategic interests of firms in responding to shifting markets, but as a result of shifts of regulation and to reflect distinct values, including the incorporation of values linked to ‘sustainability’. The result is that there is not a unitary ‘commodity form’ but instead shifting regulatory architectures. 57 This chapter has further argued that geographical political economy provides a distinct and fruitful approach to studying commodities/networks. It works with a relational materialist ontology which emphasis both stability and fluidity, the interpenetration of the physical, semiotic, economic, social and cultural and commodities/networks as embodying relationships between people and nature. Geographical political economy emphasizes the role of capital investment and the search for profit and the role of the state in regulating networks. Networks exist in relationship to places and are transformed by politics. Scale matters to networks. Scale is socially constructed and networks are both shaped by and shape scalar politics. Because the ‘global’ is only one scale through which networks pass, networks may be local or global. This calls for the comparison of networks that operate at different scales, such as the urban and the global. Networks are sites of political struggle, but this is also shaped by scale. Urban, national and global scaled politics take on different dimensions, especially concerning the potential role of the state in coordinating networks. In this process, the local still matters and domestic laws (such as consumer health and safety standards) can play a strong role in shaping networks. The question of how diverse networks contribute to local economies, development and state formation over the long durée of world capitalism is an important part of this account, but by necessity it can also fall into the background in the analysis of specific networks. While much research on networks has focused on their role in development this mirrors an economistic, productivist orientation: Alternatively, both political ecology and sustainability influenced perspectives suggest closer attention to issues of wealth distribution, access to basic needs, and environmental outcomes. Sustainability advocates, especially, stress the networks can be the object of social construction, open to transformation through collective effort and institutional design. Political ecology adds that such social construction is a contested and political process, being as they are the building blocks of substantive, material economies that mediate structure metabolic relations between people and nature. The emphasis on how production and consumption networks can be changed shines the spotlight on how networks are regulated, and the following chapter discusses how a geographical political economy perspective might broach that issue. 583. Regulating Commodities and Networks 3.1 Introduction There are many reasons why geographical political economy requires a theory of regulation. States are important for promoting some networks, constraining others and creating the backdrop of rules that shape networks. While they often fade into the background, rules concerning health, safety, environmental and other standards make a difference in shaping networks-- they guide the behaviour of managers and engineers who design and plan technologies, material infrastructure and logistics. Commodities/networks are social relationships and the state is a (at times relatively silent) participant in these relationships. Regulation is central to not only the ways that the state transforms the economy but is also central to efforts to transform economies and networks to reflect public interest values. As Sheppard (2011) notes, economic geographers have devoted considerable effort at tracking shifts in capitalism due to changing regulatory paradigms. They find that “state regulation of the economy is a constant struggle between conflicting objectives, with different resolutions of the relationship between the state and the capitalist economy emerging in different contexts” (Sheppard, 2011, p. 326). However, as many conflicting theories of state, law and regulation show, it is no easy task to specify the nature of regulation and how it operates. As the previous chapter noted, sustainable commodities challenge many traditional ideas of regulation. They overturn notions that regulation should extend neutrally over all goods (such as with consumption taxes or workplace safety standards) rather than selectively apply to specific commodities. They may involve private forms of authority, challenging the idea that only the state does or should oversee regulation. Networks cut across scales and so challenge the idea that regulation should fit into neat scalar containers of city, region, and nation. Sustainable commodities exemplify incomplete commodification and so cannot be analyzed as simply an extension of capitalist commodification but do involve multiple, often incongruous logics. Sustainable commodities are phenomena that contribute to the need to move beyond the old polarity of state-centric public interest theories (as discussed in Jessop, 1990, p. 278-306) and cynical regulatory capture theories (as criticized in High, 1991; Radin, 1996). Theories of 59regulation need to incorporate a sense of the play of ethics, routines, discursive frame and economic interests found in sustainable commodities. We also need a theory of regulation that can cover the special case of sustainable commodities but also more traditional state regulation. In the following I identify four broad camps -- the Regulation Approach (3.2), theorists that promote ‘governance’ (3.3), governmentality (3.4), and neo-Gramscian approaches (3.5). Each in their own way provides for the possibility of understanding regulation as involving a diversity of participants with different values and interests, and as involving both action by the narrow juridical-legal state and as extending beyond it to include different parts of civil society. , Each approach has also been used to analyze different types of alternative goods (such as organic foods) and certification systems. This chapter analyzes a representative sample of studies from each of the four approaches and which are directed at understanding alternative commodities or certification systems. The chapter argue that none of the four approaches canvassed are sufficient on their own or as a regulatory theory compatible with geographical political economy. The chapter suggests instead a fifth approach, Sum and Jessop’s Strategic Relational Approach and Cultural Political Economy (“CPE“) (3.6). I argue that Sum and Jessop’s approach offers advantages over others, and is uniquely situated to form the basis for a a geographical political economy approach to network regulation. At times through the following discussion I draw on their ideas before formally giving them separate treatment (at 3.6). I also offer a more extensive analysis in Chapter 8 where I further extend Sum and Jessop’s work to apply to the case studies of the thesis. To foreshadow that later treatment it is worth saying a few words about the orientation from the get go. For Sum and Jessop, the ‘economic’ is not a self-contained arena, but is always discursively constituted, always incomplete and so co-constituted by the political. As such, the workings of capitalism, including the workings of commodities/networks, are mediated by societal institutions and systems of regulation which negotiate tensions and discursive contestation between societal forces. Such forces may be economic (such as alliances of industrial firms to lobby for preferred policies) but they may also be extra-economic -- such as coalitions of citizen groups that seek to protect biodiversity. Regulation is not determined by capitalist interests, but is heteroglossic 60(both a synthesis and bricolage of many voices--see Sum and Jessop, 2013, p. 106) and so combines state and private sector interest in capitalist accumulation with discourses of the public interest and societal pushback. Commodities/networks are a meeting point between the conflicting logics of profit-oriented market-mediated accumulation and political mobilization: Adjudicating these conflicts can fall on the state through economy-wide measures, commodities/networks-specific state regulation (such as electricity or water policy) or hybrid public-private systems such as industry-nongovernmental organization alliances for certification standards or firm based codes of conduct. As will be seen, Sum and Jessop’s approach allows for a non-economistic account of regulation, a role for economic imaginaries to shape particular networks through the action of diverse societal projects and significant reworking, under diverse forms of regulation, of state, firm, consumer and civil society relationships.3.2 The Regulation Approach Many resource geographers have drawn on the Regulation Approach (Bridge, 2000; Kreuger, 2000; McManus, 2002; McCarthy and Prudham, 2004) It suggests a way to theorize resource management and environmental policies as a response to contradictions and dilemmas endemic to capitalist commodification. However, we can carve out distinct ways the Regulation Approach has been used, one that leans towards structure and one that moves beyond the Regulation Approach to consider strategy. This strategic interpretation also played an important role in the formation of Sum and Jessop’s Cultural Political Economy. The Regulation Approach had focused on explaining the rise of Keynesian policy as a move to ‘intensive capitalism’ whereby workers could not be simply treated as a resource to be exploited but had to be cared for and adequately paid so they could consume “department two” goods and complete the circuit of capital (Aglietta, 1979). Fordist mass production thus required mass consumption. The approach posited a structural coherence between industrial paradigms such as industrial mass production, national macro-economic policy (or accumulation regime) and a ‘mode of regulation’. “Regulation” did not refer to law and administrative procedure per se but rather the self-corrective drives of capitalism as a whole in the face of crisis. Industrial pressure regulators thus serve as the relevant machine-metaphor. Regulationists “replaced the 61notion of ‘reproduction’ with that of ‘regulation” (Jessop, 1990, p. 307). The theory is not deterministic in the traditional sense -- it refers to tendencies which combined to form historically contingent institutions and practices, but it remains economistic: ‘Regulation’ is a “means of mobilizing counter-tendencies to the various generic and specific crisis tendencies of a given stage of capitalism” (Jessop, 1990, p. 309). The ‘mode of regulation’ referred primarily to the overall configuration of the economy, across dimensions of wage relations, type of business enterprises and their management, the money system, the state and international regimes such as trade laws and monetary systems. They thus included law and state administrative action within this broad conception as well as allowing for non-state influences such as firm practices and consumption norms. However, this comes at a theoretical price: The focus was on how institutions structured the economy to aid in the completion of the circuit of capital in the face of inevitably generated antagonisms and crises: “They successfully expressed and regulated these conflicts until the inevitable build up of tensions and disparities among the various regulatory forms reached crisis point” (Jessop, 1990, p. 308). Central to Regulationist writing is the assertion that the Keynesian-Fordist system ran out of steam in the early 1970s leading to the search for a new fix. McCarthy and Prudham thus suggest following Regulation Theory to “interrogate neoliberalism as post-Fordist regulation” (McCarthy and Prudham, 2004, p. 281): In so doing they point to a consolidated structure -- “neoliberal, capitalist modernity” (McCarthy and Prudham, 2004, p 281). This has also led to considerable research that emphasizes how alternative production and consumption systems fit the mould of neoliberalism, such as organic foods (c.f. Guthman, 2008) or Forest Stewardship Council wood (Klooster, 2010). However, two problems can be singled out in applying this structuralist reading of the Regulation Approach to resource and environmental issues and alternative commodities. In the late 1990s a range of geographers analogized the Regulation Approach to subnational environment and resource management issues, exploring the regulation of mining (Bridge, 2000) or forestry (McManus, 2002). These drew on James O’Connors idea of a second contradiction to capitalism. O’Connor invokes Polanyi’s notion of fictitious commodities to 62argue capitalism depends on the extra-economic. Just as there is a need to reinvest profits in education and other aspects of the social reproduction of workers, there is a similar need to invest in ecosystems and resource management. Failure to do so leads to a potential crisis of‘‘underproduction’’ and “cost-side profit squeezes” (O’Connor 1994, p. 154). O’Connor theorizes two responses: A ‘sustainable capitalism’ would look much like environmental economists’ prescriptions -- environmental taxes, subsidies for renewable energy and a focus on clean technology innovation. This makes use of the capitalist state in its traditional role as capital’s handmaiden: “There is hardly any state activity or budgetary item that does not concern itself in different ways with one or more conditions of production” (O’Connor, 1994, p. 165). Alternatively, a Polanyian pushback must circumvent the capitalist state. This requires an eco-socialist response (and so transformation of the state) with coalitions between labour and environmentalists. In Regulationist terms, sustainable capitalism -- or as its proponents often called it, ecological modernization (e.g Hajer, 1995) -- would represent a shift from the environmentally extensive system of the nineteenth and twentieth century to an intensive one where nature would be incorporated into but also carefully cultivated by capitalism (Bridge, 2000). However, geographers using O’Connor and the Regulation Approach found something different. Bridge (2000) found that American mining companies face new state regulations driven not only by landscape oriented economic sectors (such as real estate, high technology, and tourism) but also from social movements. McManus’s (2002) study of forestry in British Columbia and New South Wales begins with the Regulation Approach but adds new theory to explain how the state balances corporate interests and an increasingly well organized, environmentally based opposition. He thus draws on neo-pluralism or ‘critical pluralism’, a discourse theoretical political theory for adjudicating contestation through dialogue, contestation and agonistics borrowing from Michel Foucault, Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau and William Connolly (see Schlosberg, 2002). Law and state action could not be explained economistically -- regulation in the legal sense (e.g. management regimes, state law, administrative action) had functions other than ‘Regulation’ (in the Regulationist sense). As a result, there were not clean 63lines separating state action, capital interest and civil society mobilization in ways that could show these transformations were exclusively the product of capitalist logics. A second problem relates to how to identify and define neoliberalism as a stable and consistent framework for environmental regulation. There is now an extensive body of case studies attempting to identify particular regimes as neoliberal and to draw from that literature general conclusions about the nature of neoliberalism and how it affects nature (Castree, 2008; Bakker, 2009, 2010b). This has not proved an easy task because while indicia can be found for neoliberalism (such as marketization and privatization) it is hard to see what unifies the studies. There are two conjoined difficulties. One is that the literature covers many different cases: These range from clear despoliation (such as through budget cuts that remove water quality monitoring) and the removal of protections to allow greater resource extraction, to initiatives that might fit with O’Connor’s notion of sustainable capitalism. The latter include efforts to create new market-oriented regulation (such as renewable power sourced through competitive private sector contracts), proxy markets (such cap and trade regimes which seek hard caps on carbon emissions) or voluntary green goods (making use of emerging consumer concern). A second is that very distinct policy traditions are involved with distinct origins from neoliberalism. These include: Ecological economists’ attempts to value ecosystems -- much maligned by more traditional economists who argue it bypasses contingent valuation exercises (Dempsey and Robertson, 2012); urban sustainability policies which inherit the planned management and state interventionism usually associated with the Keynesian era (Raco, 2005); property rights regimes in fisheries resource management that date from the 1950s (Mansfield, 2004); and eco-communitarianism in areas such as forestry that, like neoliberalism, holds a benign faith in civil society and ‘community’, but whose proponents feel their project is hijacked by neoliberalism (McCarthy, 2005). The result has been a cycling of suggestions of how to find some unity. Some case study analysis, such as Guthman (2008), imply that commodification is a core principle, but, as argued in the previous chapter (at 2.6), this begs the question concerning the different ways of constructing commodification and the fact that very diverse regulatory approaches can include forms of commodification. Castree (2008) suggests an ideal-type of 64neoliberalism that casts it as a push for laissez-faire. This abstracts from, rather than accounts for, the specificity of individual cases and does disservice to the distinct world-views involved. Some writers have appealed to the concept of ‘hybrid neoliberalism’ (McCarthy, 2005; Dempsey and Robertson, 2012) but that invites speculation whether it is neoliberalism or the other tradition in the hybrid which should be prioritized for study. Larner (2003) used a Foucauldian discourse theoretic reading which leads to an emphasis on localized variation. This might be a good way to approach case studies, but it dodges answering the Regulationist question concerning whether a unified neoliberal approach might be found. As Brenner, Peck and Theodore note of such approaches to neoliberalism, the “macrospatial regulatory landscapes within which this variety is produced appear to lie outside the frame of analytical reference” (Brenner et. al., 2010, p. 202). The most likely proposal is that of variegated neoliberalism (Bakker, 2010b; Dempsey and Robertson, 2012). However, this forces the question of what explains the variegation. Original formulations of variegation had described a cluster of neoliberal thinkers (such as Hayek and Friedman) that could serve as a small set of genotypes leading to broad variation in phenotype expression. Variation would come from not only differences in the original cluster but from collision with path dependent institutional landscapes and subsequent mutations. Yet even passing reference to the political economic visions or the personalities and utterances of advocates behind red tape cutting sub-national governments, ecological economists and eco-communitarians shows they are worlds apart. If these are all united as ‘neoliberal’ then we are faced with the question of what, beyond a penchant for market devices, unites them. How can we infer back from all these different approaches to a stable and cohesive context that the case studies express? Making it even harder to create a unified picture is the fact that many initiatives built on the ‘win win’ of environment and economy seem to fail more than succeed, lacking the support of right wing political parties controlling the state executive (as in Canada from 2006 to present) or legislature (as in the United States under Barack Obama’s presidency), and, more deeply, faltering on the path dependency, momentum and lock-in of existing socio-technical and institutional complexes (Unruh, 2000). Large scale examples includes failures of climate action in the United States in 2010 (Skocpol, 2013), and the complete lack of uptake of the United Nations Development Program Green Economy 65proposals for the Rio + 20 conference in 2012 (as spelled out in UNEP, 2011). Both were tightly modeled by economists to offer long term GDP gains over the alternative of business as usual. An alternative response focuses on strategy rather than structure, and dispenses with the Regulation Approach’s quest for structural coherence. This argues that there has been a broad but uneven neoliberalization process through society and economy as a whole, which issues in its extension to resource and environmental policy, it being met by existing approaches to resources and the environment (such as recalcitrant Keynesian era policies), alternative approaches (such as a long-standing biocentric resistance to capitalist growth) and a host of new innovations. In this last group (which includes types of ecological economics and communitarian proposals in forestry, energy or agriculture) we can find efforts to seek environmental improvement and incorporate forms of market-ordering, and often draw on and hybridize with ideas of sustainability. In all this there are significant differences over type of regulation needed, the principles that should guide that regulation, and by extension how commodification should occur. None of these approaches are guaranteed success, and they often exist as small scale examples or efforts that fail to achieve broad policy adoption or longer term sedimentation. Such a strategic approach can draw on Bob Jessop’s and others long engagement with the Regulation Approach. Jessop coupled it to an anti-economistic state theory which recognizes that the need for solving problems of economic and extra-economic relations are not settled by capital but by society as a whole through the state. The state, in turn, does not represent any kind of unitary capitalist voice but operates as a “form determined condensation of the balance of political forces operating within and beyond the state” (Jessop, 2002a, p. 6). That is, the state must find some degree of unity, often voiced as the public interest, to provide social cohesion and appease and balance the pressures and needs of diverse groups. For Jessop, the strength of the Regulation Approach was how it showed the dependence on the economy on extra-economic institutions. However, he saw “that its account of the state is a weakness” (p. 312), “it’s role is still largely neglected or distorted” (p. 315). The state “cannot just be seen as a regulatory deus ex machina to be lowered on the stage whenever the capital relation needs it”’ (Jessop, 1990, p. 318). His alternative, strategic relational view of the state makes reference to “concrete agents 66and strategies” (p. 318) the co-evolution of state and economy through “strategic coupling” (Jessop, 1990, p. 329) and the “evolution of different regulatory mechanisms without being forced into economic reductionism” (Jessop, 1990, p. 332). As such, legal institutions and bureaucracies do serve to ‘regulate’ in the sense of addressing incomplete capitalist relations, but they are separate sub-systems or orders from that of the economy, and serve political functions such as representing the public interest and ensuring social cohesion. This creates a potent critique of Regulationism – it failed to “fully explore to what extent and how these separate orders with their own social forms and institutional logics might pose deep-seated problems for the effective regulation of capital”(Jessop, 1990, p. 333). Jessop thus conjoined the Regulation Approach with an account of strategic action in forming the state. The state would be shaped by successive state-making projects, and was charged with not only remedying capitalist contradictions but also balancing contending societal forces and realizing the public interest. He thus adopts Polanyi’s notion of fictitious commodities, but in a different way than O’Connor. On the economic side there is a need to deal with incompleteness, but societal pushback can work through the state, answerable as it is to diverse social forces. As such, profit-oriented market-mediated accumulation is a dominating influence on, but not determinative of, the state. By extension, and which became increasingly clear through the 1990s and 2000s, if no structural coherence emerged to stabilized economy the result was strategic action directed at both the state and the economy (Jessop and Sum, 2006). The result is that there are now diverse environmental and ecological projects at play seeking to remake the state and the economy (Jessop, 2012b). Moreover, in times of uncertainty with no broad consensus, ideological projects can also capture the state and create obstacles to resolving underlying dilemmas. Theorists of variegated neoliberalization such as Neil Brenner, Jamie Peck and Nick Theodore thus stress neoliberalization as a strategic project, which often does get worked into state policy and laws, but not as a coherent paradigm for ‘regulating’ capitalism: “neoliberalization has never represented a stable institutional ‘fix’ (Brenner et. al., 2010, p. 210). Key to theorists who have moved beyond the Regulation Approach (as Jessop and Sum, 2006, title their book) is that neoliberalism is not a replacement for Fordism and rather than ‘regulation’ there is simply ongoing crises and contradictions and contested models in response. 67 This approach also provides a response to the neoliberal nature problematic, for it can recognize neoliberalization as reaching into shape local contexts, but also being met by, hybridizing with, and being altered by diverse alternative regulatory approaches. Neoliberalism is not a totalizing force and there are alternative strategic projects at play. We should recognize that there are a broad range of theoretical schools and policy tropes that overlap in promoting forms of market-making and commodification. In some cases these might be labelled as ‘green neoliberalism’ especially where they would bring regulation more closely (but certainly not all the way!) towards ideals of property ownership and arm’s length exchange, that is, towards complete commodification. However, in purporting to directly address environmental issues, and at times involving new technologies, ecosystem knowledge or even hard targets (such as renewable energy quotas) they can be distinguished from other types of neoliberalism. These can contribute to the contemporary conjuncture, respond to it and fail because they differ too much from it. This strategic approach can ask about the origins of diverse policies and their applications, what is unique about them, how they change the architectonics, material composition, resource flows and imaginaries of commodities/networks, and whether they promote narrow goals of accumulation or eco-social transformation and economic democracy. It can also treat the quest for a ‘win win’ opaquely, that is, as a policy discourse, quite independently of whether there is any systemic logic or hidden societal ‘pressure regulators’ that might snap into action to realize that objective.3.3 Governance A number of different streams of thought have tried to provide a closer empirical analysis of how regulation has changed through the 1990s and 2000s. Proponents of ‘governance’ -- theorists such as Guy Peters, John Pierre, Mark Bevir and Rod Rhodes -- argue that the idea of the singular public interest state is largely outmoded, that political authority is multi-layered, shared, and often operating across several different spatial scales. The traditional conceptual division between state and market, sovereign and society and public and private are seen as inapplicable or blurred (Bridge and Perrault, 2009). Environmental governance approaches look to the rise of civil society organizations and call for integration and public participation, a 68transition to more flexible procedures that go beyond traditional initiatives and which include “networked forms of organization involving a wide range of non-state actors but also government, mainly through exchange and negotiation rather than through traditional state-led regulation” (Ponte et. al., 2011, p. 1; Gunningham, 2009). These are at times also articulated with theories of the ‘Regulatory State” and ‘Smart Regulation’. One characteristic of Keynesian planning was putatively public interest regulation made on a discretionary and secret basis by state bureaucrats engaged in bipartite negotiations and tacit collusion with large industrial interests. Theorists of the ‘regulatory state’ argue that the changes initiated in the United Kingdom by Thatcher and continued by Blair were not only concerned with privatization, but also redrawing the terms of regulatory control over the market to create better transparency. While much of this was guided by the belief that the state should only intervene in the face of clear market failures it also represented a move to articulate, in transparent and codified fashion, the principles that would guide regulation. Technocratic expert opinion and economic analysis based on public data would then prescribe the instruments by which the state would steer the parsimonious regulation of independent industries (C.Mitchell, 2008, drawing on Moran, 2003). Smart Regulation theorists take this one step further. These argue that there is no good ideological reason to reject state “command and control” regulation but insist such regulation should be chosen as part of a suite of more pluralistic, flexible and context specific approaches that draw on a mix of policy instruments most suitable to explicitly stated goals. Such regulatory steering can extend also to the strategic use of resources outside the state where these promise desirable outcomes and can compensate for declining budgets. Governments should be ready to engage in continuing governance experimentation aimed at identifying and testing new ways to share governance responsibilities by empowering business and civil society through information, networks and partnership (Tollefson et. al., 2008, p. 257; Gunningham, 2009). Many researchers have also extended these approaches to understand certification systems. There is now a large literature on private governance arrangements in commodities/networks and the ways these involve rules and regulation comparable to public law arrangements 69(for reviews see Vogel, 2008; Schouten and Galsbergen, 2011; Ponte and Cheyns, 2013). A number of scholars have noted the ability of non-state governance forms (or hybrid formations) to better integrate scientific, technical and non-expert forms of knowledge; to secure legitimacy across broad coalitions of stakeholder groups; to provide flexibility in uncertain and rapidly changing contexts and to address problems that have both causes and impacts that range across a variety of geographic and institutional scales. Pressures from both above and below have made it increasingly difficult for states to govern through traditional top-down, command and control forms of sovereign rule. Part of what motivates this literature is an awareness that these systems do involve the emergence of norms and a shift in what counts as legitimacy in international ordering. They thus rest on a broader norm complex present through society and represent an institutionalized authority with power resources. They are thus seen as reflecting, positively, the emergence of democratic, social, and environmental norms in the global public domain (Bernstein and Cashore, 2007). Certification systems become domains in which civil society actors such as environmental non-governmental organizations can have a direct influence on regulation that occurs at a distance from often closed state structures (Eden and Bear, 2010). Certification systems may empower consumers to participate in governance, while correcting for informational failures endemic to markets (Tollefson et. al., 2008, p. 19). Accountability and responsiveness flows to not just states, but broader shareholders, at times creating a complex set of problems given the need for moral justification, the diversity of stakeholders and their subject positions (Schouten and Glasbergen, 2011). These approaches do offer convincing evidence of the emergence of new types of regulation and direct attention to the principles behind initiatives and the instruments marshaled to advance them. In some cases, the use of governance theories helps expand the repertoire of methodologies for understanding commodities/networks. For instance, Tollefson, Gale and Harvey (2008) offer detailed analysis of the quite sophisticated institutions and organizations involved in some governance style regulatory regimes (Tollefson et. al., 2008). Auld and Gulbrandsen (2010) show how institutional design involves tradeoffs between transparent public participation and support and timely response to policy problems. Also, the term’ governance’ has taken on many different meanings (Bridge and Perrault, 2009) and critical scholars at times 70contribute empirical case studies to this literature (c.f. Hall, 2010). One of the case studies in this thesis uses analytical vocabulary from governance approaches, specifically that of Tollefson and co-authors. The approach has significant drawbacks. While writers in this tradition do level criticisms concerning these systems, they do so with reserve given they do not want to foreclose on what they see as the significant potential of these systems to create positive change (c.f. Tollefson et. al., 2008; Auld and Cashore, 2012) They also avoid a depth analysis demanded by political economy -- e.g. naming capitalism as an economic system, an explicit analysis of power inequalities, a robust sense of market coordination as failing to meet public interest values or contributing to uneven development, and broad historical contextualization such as the ideological basis for the hollowing out of the state (for further critiques of this type of governance see Emel, 2002; Ioris, 2012; McCarthy, 2012; Hackett, 2013). They do the work of suggesting commonalities of purpose and so obscuring divergence and conflict over issues that go to the core of the political (Bridge and Perrault, 2009). Jessop provides a bridge in this regard. In The Future of the Capitalist State (2002a) he argues that governance initiatives compromise a distinct class of economic coordination (‘heterarchy’) but which can also be analyzed in political economic terms. Heterarchic arrangements are resorted to by states, firms and civil society as a response to both market failure and state failure (Jessop, 2002a, p. 228-230). Failure here does not mean only that market ordering or state regulation does not get off the ground or collapses (that is, as a bridge may ‘fail’ by falling down). While that can happen, more modest forms of failure include failing to meet objectives such as serving the public interest (for markets) or securing self-ascribed goals (such as the welfare state aim to reduce inequality). Heterarchic arrangements can fail in the sense of falling apart because participants cannot agree, but they can also fail to meet public interest concerns (analogously with markets) and fail to replace state hierarchy as a viable alternative for securing state goals. Jessop argues they are very much prone to failure. They seek, as much as the state does, to create a meeting ground and balance for the “conflicting logics of accumulation and political mobilization” (p. 238). However they do not extinguish but 71simply reproduce the complex coordination problems that lead to state and market failures. They are inserted into the state system and should be analyzed also in terms of the state’s ‘metagovernance’ functions, by which it oversees and chooses between forms of coordination. As such, much governance theory, and the particular approval of governance systems, stems from the ideological distrust of state ‘command and control’ regulation. However the effective decision to rule out such regulation is not made ab initio but delegated to economists and regulatory experts for whom it operates as a heuristic empirical assumption (Jessop, 2002, p. 240). There is thus ample room for geographers to analyze heterarchic systems to show forms of failure and to provide correctives concerning heuristic assumptions that they are better than state coordination forms.3.4 Governmentality In environmental geography and political ecology there has also been a general concern with understanding environmental management as ‘environmentality’ and ’ecological governmentality’ (Agrawal, 2005; Rutherford, 2007; Bridge and Perrault, 2009). These stress the broad ‘conduct of conduct’ that can occur as states or firms enact and promote broad rationalities of rule. Such rationalities can extend to the definition of what counts as relevant knowledge and metrics, leading to analysis of expert knowledge and how it is operationalized. It thus displaces the state as the exclusive source of ideas, power or control: What counts as political authority and expertise are not external to, but are instead shaped by rationalities of rule. “Government” can extend to a broad range of tactics and techniques beyond explicit legal coercion, to include the design of architecture in a school or prison, to “technologies of agency” which shape person self-identity and so morals, ethics, and modes of political participation. Arjun Agrawal argues the study of ‘government’ effectively reframes environmental politics to extend beyond issues of state action or conflicts of economic power. It points to how the “seemingly diverse fields of social action and change denoted by knowledge, politics, institutions and subjectivities in reality run through each other” (Agrawal, 2005, p. 203). A number of scholars have found it particularly helpful for understanding codes and standards in commodities/networks, pointing as it does beyond macro-structural analysis to how 72projects “are articulated and rendered workable in local settings and interactions, and how such processes relate to, make possible, as well as contest broader forms of governing conduct” (Higgins and Larner, 2010, p. 3). There is thus an increasing body of governmentality inspired research on knowledge systems, standards and soft law in commodities/networks (Gibbon and Ponte, 2008; Higgins and Larner, 2010; Ponte et. al., 2011; Raj-Reichert, 2013), including the use of corporate social responsibility to disciplining distant subcontractors along the supply chain (Sum 2009, Sum and Jessop 2013, chapter 9). Foucauldian approaches have has also been directed at a range of voluntaristic consumption side programs that make up part of emerging regulation of commodities/networks (Slocum, 2004; Hobson, 2006; Brand, 2007; Aylett and Rutland, 2008; Pudup, 2008). As Rutherford (2007) notes in her excellent review of environmentality/ green governmentality literature, this work shows how “responsibility for the environment is shifted onto the population, and citizens are called to take up the mantle of saving the environment in attractively simplistic ways” (p. 299). Such voluntaristic programs are often initiated under broad sustainable consumption policies (Shove, 2004). Consumer subjectivization may occur through a general economy wide injunction to ‘act responsibly’ or ‘do one’s part’ and ‘ethical’ or ‘green’ products may provide the promise of enabling such action. Alternatively, specific networks (such as local electricity utilities) may actively use advertising and public relations programs to achieve goals (such as energy conservation and efficiency) through shaping consumer beliefs and action (Hobson, 2006; Aylett and Rutland, 2008). There are however two key tensions in these accounts which point to the need for a more expansive theoretical repertoire. Much of this work builds on Foucault’s work in the 1960s and 1970s which emphasized the way power worked on subjects and easily leads to the assumption that the conduct of conduct has a partly coercive quality akin to but operating independently from state regulation. However, Foucault later came to emphasize power as a two-way relationship between subjects, which could be transformed through struggle to aid agent’s own capacities for self-definition and care of the self. Foucault’s own last writing (just before he died) on parrhesia emphasize attention to the openings created as subjects can enter into dialogue with, and speak truth to power rather than accept pre-given rationalities (Flynn, 1988; Miller, 2006). As such, subject formation cannot simply be read off of policy scripts and people do not 73always follow the program laid down by the “normalizing gaze” (Slocum, 2004, p. 772). We thus “need to question how the heterogeneous assemblages of mechanisms, bodies, techniques, and knowledges that constitute the field of environmental governmentality actually act on individuals” (Hobson, 2006, p. 320). This should include accounts of how agents respond to and seek to transform discursively constituted, structurally inscribed contexts. Clive Barnett and co-authors thus argue that participation in alternative networks such as fair trade coffee are political acts in which agents seek to remake their own practices of the self and the broader economy --the exchange process is refashioned as a field for exercising political responsibility (Barnett et. al., 2010). There are long-standing complaints from political economy traditions that Foucauldian work is “somewhat diffuse for grappling with...class coalitions, interest-based politics, and scale-specific ecological dynamics” (McCarthy and Prudham, 2004, p. 280). Analysis of rationalities of rule can thus fail to ask the ‘why’ question, which can require linking state strategies and rationalities back to theorizing the state in terms of its relationship to social structures and the historical evolution of societal systems. If societal principles such as personal and political responsibility now have regulatory power in shaping networks we need to also interrogate why they arise, and how they work reciprocally with other institutions to structure networks to form part of negotiated regulatory compromise. We thus need to move from an agent centered view to a more systemic analysis of the workings of networks to ask not simply whether there is political responsibility at play but how it is mediated by the specific political visions embodied in the institutions of the commodity/network. We thus need to interrogate which public interest values are furthered -- how progressive really is this alternative economic imaginary? -- and how diverse tensions between the economic, extra-economic use and exchange value are temporally resolved. A clear methodological answer is to seek ways of commingling political economic and governmentality themes through context specific empirical analysis (c.f. Mitchell, 2002; Goldman, 2006). This is the approach taken in the case studies, where concepts of governmentality are invoked alongside many others. 743.5 Neo-Gramscian Approaches Another, approach, however, is to rework the theoretical articulation of political economy to more explicitly include the role of discourses in shaping state and non-state action and regulation and link the development of rationalities of rule to crises and contradictions endemic to capitalism. An investigation into rationalities of rule may provide one entry point into examining complex processes of co-evolving economic and regulatory practices which are simultaneously economic, institutional and discursive. Neo-Gramscian positions thus suggest the possibility for mixing post-structuralist concerns with discourse and subject formation with political economic concerns with power, structure and the workings of capitalist dynamics. They can explain the emergence of new environmental governance arrangements in terms of shifts in the state understood in its integral sense (lo stato integrale) as including firms, civil society, consumers and other groups. What is at issue is not the abandonment of the state from the terrain, but a re-ordering of the relationship of societal forces that may be overseen from a distance by the juridical state. Neo-Gramscian accounts can recognize the shifts theorists of governance, Smart Regulation and regulatory capitalism identify, but also theorize them in terms of contestation over social power and the ever changing structures of the state. The emergence of a role in regulation by businesses, private-public partnerships and non-governmental organizations replaces functions traditionally performed by the administrative liberal state. It thus represents a new way to unfold hegemony and passive revolution by absorbing and deflecting ongoing societal concern over environmental crisis. There are however, a variety of readings of Gramsci (Thomas, 2009) and distinct neo-Gramscian schools (Sum and Jessop, 2013, p.77-81) and so different ways of theorizing this process. Current articulation of neo-Gramscian accounts for Global Production Networks follow the “Italian” School of Robert Cox and Stephen Gill developed in international relations (Levy, 2008; see also Bloomfield, 2012 discussing FSC wood but not through GPN frameworks). David Levy argues that a neo-Gramscian approach shows how Global Production Networks integrate economic, political, and discursive dimensions. They feature asymmetries of power and income as well as opportunities for strategic agents to reveal these asymmetries, find points of tension 75and leverage, and challenge their structures and processes. Global Production Networks feature dynamic struggles over governance -- struggles for hegemony over the institutional apparatus that structure networks. For Levy, regulation appears as a strategic response by industry to protect its interest in the face of resistance: He thus discusses the development of Fair Trade practices and industry codes of conduct in the coffee sector as an effort to protect the hegemonic stability of networks and create legitimacy for large brand names that carry Fair Trade goods (Levy, 2008, p. 957). In an analogous argument applied to corporate social responsibility, Levy and Kaplan (2007) argue corporate social responsibility is a discursive accommodation and material compromise that emerges from the strategies of various parties; particular CSR practices thus reflect the balance of forces among competing interest groups. Generally these accord a measure of legitimacy to external stakeholders, but reserve to corporate management the role of benign stewardship of societal resources. There is a need to expand such analyses in light of repeatedly voiced concerns. The Italian School has been criticized for broadly overlooking “the constitutive presence of discourse inside the economic and the political” (Sum and Jessop, 2013, p. 77) or specific to environmental regulation, the role of new values such as environmental concern which do not originate from the interests of capital (Bernstein, 2001, p. 15). We thus need an approach that can show dialogic contestation over the principles, values, institutions, and organizational form of networks rather than reduce discourse to an expression of the results of interest based mutual adjustment. The Italian School has been criticized for overemphasizing macro-level economic structural factors that leave little room for the role of agency in localized compromises (Okereke and Bulkeley, 2007, p. 29). Concepts such as the ‘new constitutionalism’ (Gill, 1998) thus describe an ‘institutional lock-in’ that shapes all processes from above. In contrast, geographical political economy points to “the strategic role of national, regional and local state apparatuses as active progenitors of...institutional reforms and policy prototypes, and as arenas in which market-oriented regulatory experiments are initiated, consolidated and even extended” (Brenner et. al., 2010, p. 196). This variegation can be further extended to compromises over networks to explore the development of new forms of regulation. A concern for localized variation also dovetails with Gramsci as a spatial theorist (Jessop, 2008a). There is thus also a need to relate 76discourses, strategies and regulatory compromise to the dynamics of networks as rooted in place, cross-cutting scales and involving myriad differently situated participants. The case studies draw on Levy’s idea of negotiation and compromise in networks, but with attentiveness to the above concerns. 3.6 The Strategic Relational Approach and Cultural Political Economy The case studies draw on a mix of perspectives from Global Production Networks, including ideas of governmentality and neo-Gramscian compromise. The conclusion seeks to elaborate a more nuanced neo-Gramscian position drawing on Jessop and Sum’s cultural political economy and its articulation of spatio-temporal and institutional fixes. In the following I introduce the Strategic Relational Approach (“SRA”) and its more recent extension into Cultural Political Economy (“CPE”). I do so here to extend the analysis of theories of regulation even though these ideas will only resurface in the thesis in the final chapter. Throughout his academic career Jessop has sought to develop an orientation to political economy that avoids the pitfalls of economism and incorporate the ways discursively constituted projects can rework the state and the economy. As was mentioned above (at 3.2) Jessop draws from not only Marx but also Karl Polanyi to emphasize the role in the economy of structuring institutions (such as provided by law and regulation in the sense of administrative action and legal subrules), the primacy of the political in directing the state’s economic policies, and the role of discourses and imaginaries of the economy in shaping intervention. The Strategic Relational Approach roots regulation in the inherently problematic nature of capitalism and builds on Polanyi’s idea of capitalist economies being riven by inherent contradictions as land, labour, knowledge and money are at root fictitious commodities. The result is multiple regulatory dilemmas (Jessop, 2002b, p. 18-21). While Jessop’s conception of regulation draws on the more abstract idea of crisis resolution it can also capture the workings of specific state policies and their translation into law. Jessop thus considers the role of intellectual property protection and opposition to it from those who see knowledge as a common resource (Jessop, 2008b, see also Sum and Jessop, 2013, p. 285-290). Others, such a Jamie Peck have used a similar schema as 77Jessop to indicate how the state’s need to negotiate contradictions and dilemmas can play out in terms of decision-making over the rules for labour market design (Peck, 1996, chapter 2). Jessop has developed the Strategic Relational Approach over decades, starting with state theory (Jessop, 1990). Central to the Strategic Relational Approach is the claim that profit-oriented market-mediated accumulation does not determine the state but is instead ‘ecologically dominant’ (Jessop, 1990, p. 178). By this phrase Jessop means to indicate that the economy and politics are separate orders (or functional sub-systems) which are mutually interdependent but not necessarily equal. The state plays a central role in resolving underlying economic crises and is strongly shaped by economic actors. However, the state does not operate as the pliant tool of capital or the ruling class but at the same time it remains strongly influenced by the needs of capitalist reproduction. The state is reworked by distinct strategic projects. These projects shape the state but do not do so conclusively. Instead, they set the stage which constrains but does not determine future strategic action. The state must balance contradictions between the economy and its extra-economic supports and this results in a range of complex balancing decisions as legislators and other state officials consider various types of contradictions (of land, labour, knowledge and money), treat some contradictions as more important than others, prioritize resolving some contradictions at the expense of others, or displace problems in space and time (Jessop, 2002a, p. 18-21; Sum and Jessop, 2013, p. 249-250; Jessop 2013a, see also Peck, 1996, chapter 2). Jessop’s state theory -- and later work -- is explicitly Gramscian not only in its use of terms like Fordism, and historic bloc but in the identification of successful, dominant, capitalist projects with hegemony: “A successful hegemonic project penetrates different functional subsystems, organizations and identities... it provides a conception of the common good and a framework within which different forces can cooperate and/or coexist with a relative degree of harmony” (Jessop, 1990, p. 336). In a second stage, Jessop expands the SRA into a general heuristic that applies across society and analyzes the dialectic of structure and agency, path-dependency and path-shaping, the material and discursive, and how social life is undergirded by spatialities and temporalities (Jessop, 2008a, p. 240). It thus seeks to generalize ‘strategic relationality’ as a comparable but 78alternative approach to Anthony Gidden’s structuration theory. It has the advantage of not ‘freezing’ structures and agency into a duality but explaining the process over time whereby strategic projects have both structuring and strategic moments (Jessop, 2001a). During this period in the 1990s Jessop also drew heavily on the Regulation Approach (“RA”) as an economic theory that sought broad explanations of national scale social formations (Jessop and Sum, 2006). A third stage, ‘cultural political economy’ (‘CPE’), which Jessop developed with Ngai-Ling Sum through the 2000s, emphasizes the economy as an object of strategic action -- it is constituted by specific discourses and discursive processes. Sum and Jessop do not seek to simply recognize and affirm the very many ways in which the economy is now understood as linked to cultural practices (such as in studies of cultural industries, linking the economy to everyday experience, or privileging the role of aesthetics, affect or consumption -- for a long list see Sum and Jessop, 2013, p. 18-19). Rather, Sum and Jessop seek to “reconstruct critical political economy in the light of the cultural turn” (Sum and Jessop, 2013, p. 20). CPE is not distinct from, but incorporates, Jessop’s prior work. CPE emphasizes strategic projects. Jessop has l
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Transforming commodification : sustainability and the regulation of production and consumption networks Quastel, Noah 2014
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