Abstract

Reflexivity – the capacity of an agent, structure or process to change in the light of reflection on its performance – has attracted widespread support among political theorists as a virtue for environmental governance. Dryzek argues that a distinctively ecological form of reflexivity becomes crucial for governing in the Anthropocene. But there remains a need to clarify the conceptual scope of ecological reflexivity and to ascertain whether it has distinctive analytical value. A new conceptual framework for ecological reflexivity is outlined, comprising three components: recognition, rethinking and response. Through a comparative analysis of reflexivity and four related concepts – adaptive and transformative governance, experimental governance, social learning and anticipatory governance – ecological reflexivity is shown to be especially well equipped to take account of political contestation over the nature and direction of change required to respond to ecological risks.

Keywords: Reflexivity, ecological reflexivity, reflexive governance, environmental governance, Anthropocene, adaptive governance

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