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Keywords:

  • circuits of power;
  • relational power;
  • governmentality;
  • environmental policy integration;
  • strategic environmental assessment;
  • Bangladesh

The aim of this paper is to sharpen the ways in which power dynamics can be analytically ‘seen’ in complex governance contexts where particular ways of governing, and their associated horizons of thought, shape and are in turn shaped by intricate interactions between actors. A theoretical approach is proposed, combining a governmentality perspective with Stewart Clegg's theory of circuits of power. The framework is applied in a case study of experimentation by the World Bank with a new tool for Environmental Policy Integration (EPI). Rather than conceptualising the EPI tool as a governmental technology through which the World Bank could promote its favoured vision of political culture in a local setting (here urban planning in Dhaka, Bangladesh), an alternative account is generated that reveals a will to power among the international development community, realised through the construction of knowledge. This alternative approach suggests that the primary motivation for the will to power is not, as a neo-colonial perspective might suggest, power over developing countries, but relational power at the international scale. It is concluded that the narrative generated through our hybrid analytical perspective demonstrates the usefulness of multi-theoretic approaches and offers a useful extension to the analytical purchase of governmentality.