Depoliticization, Repoliticization, and Environmental Concerns – Swedish Mining Politics as an Instance of Environmental Politicization

  • Jonas Anshelm Department of Thematic Studies – Unit of Technology and Social Change, Linköping University
  • Simon Haikola Department of Thematic Studies – Unit of Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, Sweden.
Keywords: Mining politics, environmental conflict, depoliticization, repoliticization, postpolitics


An argument within the wider theory of postpolitics that has gained traction over the last decade is that environmental concerns in general, and climate policy in particular, are especially conducive to depoliticization. In this paper, we take issue with this notion by presenting an empirical case study of the repoliticization of Swedish mining and then, on the basis of this analysis, offer theoretical reflections on how to better understand depoliticization and repoliticization of the environment. We argue for the use of a narrow definition of 'depoliticization', and that sufficient attention must be paid to temporal and scalar differentiation of continuous processes of de- and repoliticization, and that normative assumptions of what constitutes the genuinely political should be abandoned. We argue that environmental concerns harbour large potential for effective politicization, and that this politicization occurs as a response to depoliticization, through concurrent, cross-fertilizing and intertwined processes of repoliticization across scales both inside and outside of formal channels of government, whereby previously depoliticized state agencies may become crucial.

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