Quotation Hausknost, Daniel. 2020. The environmental state and the glass ceiling of transformation. Environmental Politics. 29 (1), 17-37.




What are the capacities of the state to facilitate a comprehensive sustainability transition? It is argued that structural barriers akin to an invisible ‘glass ceiling’ are inhibiting any such transformation. First, the structure of state imperatives does not allow for the addition of an independent sustainability imperative without major contradictions. Second, the imperative of legitimation is identified as a crucial component of the glass ceiling. A distinction is introduced between ‘lifeworld’ and ‘system’ sustainability, showing that the environmental state has created an environmentally sustainable lifeworld, which continues to be predicated on a fundamentally unsustainable reproductive system. While this ‘decoupling’ of lifeworld from system sustainability has alleviated legitimation pressure from the state, a transition to systemic sustainability will require deep changes in the lifeworld. This constitutes a renewed challenge for state legitimation. Some speculations regarding possible futures of the environmental state conclude the article.


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Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Environmental Politics
Citation Index SSCI
Language English
Title The environmental state and the glass ceiling of transformation
Volume 29
Number 1
Year 2020
Page from 17
Page to 37
Reviewed? Y
URL https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09644016.2019.1680062
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2019.1680062
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09644016.2019.1680062


Hausknost, Daniel (Details)
Institute for Social Change and Sustainability IN (Details)
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