Deliberative Ecologies: Complexity and Social-Ecological Dynamics in International Environmental Negotiations

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Theories of complex systems can yield valuable insights for understanding the increasingly intricate networks of actors, institutions, and discourses involved in international environmental negotiations. While analysis of regimes and regime complexes has shed light on macro-level structures and relationships in global environmental politics, systemic analysis has gained less traction in making sense of micro-level interactions—such as communicative exchanges among participants—that occur within the sites of negotiation and how those interactions shape (and are shaped by) the broader dynamics of governance systems. This article shows how the conceptual lens of “deliberative ecologies” can bridge these levels of analysis by integrating theories of deliberative systems with ideas from complexity theory and social–ecological systems analysis. Drawing on evidence from United Nations climate change and biodiversity conferences between 2009 and 2018, I show how methods such as discourse analysis and process tracing can help to apply a deliberative ecologies perspective and thereby advance understanding of how discourses and deliberative practices diffuse through negotiating sites and how deliberation interacts with the social–ecological dynamics of those sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-80
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal Environmental Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


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