Paradigms and Discourses

John S. Dryzek

in The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552153
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Paradigms and Discourses

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Both paradigms and discourses are a type of inter-subjective understanding that condition individual action, and social outcomes, in the international system no less than elsewhere. They have no formal existence resembling that of organisations, constitutions, laws, and treaties. Yet paradigms and discourses can be none the less effective in coordinating the behaviour of large numbers of actors, and this is especially true in a political system as de-centralised as the international one, where formal sources of order are weak. It is impossible to understand international environmental law without getting to grips with the informal understandings that condition its creation and operation. This article explores basic concepts about paradigms and discourse, the transition from industrialism to environmentalism, and major environmental discourses including survivalism and its Promethean opposite, problem-solving discourses, sustainability, and green radicalism.

Keywords: paradigms; environmental discourses; international environmental law; industrialism; environmentalism; survivalism; problem-solving discourses; sustainability; green radicalism

Article.  8022 words. 

Subjects: Law ; International Law ; Environment and Energy Law

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