Anti-reflexivity

Theory, Culture and Society 27 (2-3):100-133 (2010)
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Abstract

The American conservative movement is a force of anti-reflexivity insofar as it attacks two key elements of reflexive modernization: the environmental movement and environmental impact science. Learning from its mistakes in overtly attacking environmental regulations in the early 1980s, this counter-movement has subsequently exercised a more subtle form of power characterized by non-decision-making. We examine the conservative movement’s efforts to undermine climate science and policy in the USA over the last two decades by using this second dimension of power. The conservative movement has employed four non-decision-making techniques to challenge the legitimacy of climate science and prevent progress in policy-making. We argue that reflexive modernization scholars should focus more attention on similar forces of anti-reflexivity that continue to shape the overall direction of our social, political and economic order, and the life chances of many citizens. Indeed, better understanding of the forces and effectiveness of anti-reflexivity may very well be crucial for societal resilience and adaptation, especially in the face of global environmental problems like climate change.

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