Power and Space-production: A Bourdieusian Perspective on Environmental Inspection in China

Fri, February 11, 2022 11:00 AM at Zoom

Dr. Liangfei Ye will present this lecture to the Global Urban Studies Program.

Power and Space-production: A Bourdieusian Perspective on Environmental Inspection in China

February 11, 2022
11 AM – 12:00 PM
Zoom Link:

Passcode: 804758

Environmental inspection has been the most important policy tool in mobilizing local Chinese societies to protect the environment since the 2014 Environmental Law. However, the effects and operation of the environmental inspection contradict its functional analyses and normative evaluations in literature, which have insufficiently revealed the actors, their power relations and struggles, and various local impacts. The contradictions and omissions compel me to elaborate a Bourdieusian perspective, which could structurally analyze the state’s power and its construction effects on local societies, to explain the effects and operation of environmental inspections. Drawing on our field research in City H, I examine this perspective by testing four hypothetical assertions: first, the inspectors have used the state’s objective and symbolic power relations inseparably; second, inspectors have decreased in power as extended downward in bureaucratic hierarchies; third, local environmental protection changes all three – physical, social, and mental – spaces; and, fourth, more powerful inspectors produce larger spaces of environmental protection.

Liangfei Ye is a fixed-term Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2021. For the past decade, he has participated in several research projects and written several articles about environmental sociology, urban sustainable development, and Chinese governance. His dissertation is about a theory of social space of Chinese local environmental protection. He is currently completing two papers, a book manuscript, and developing a theory of social space of local environmental protection.