The 'rationality' of Marine Spatial Planning in the UK

Authors: Wesley Flannery*, Queen's University Belfast, UK, Benedict McAteer, Queen's University Belfast, UK, Brendan Murtagh, Queen's University Belfast
Topics: Environment, Coastal and Marine
Keywords: marine spatial planning, power, governmentality
Session Type: Paper
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Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has been described as the rational organization of the use of marine space. Rationality is, however, context-dependent and the context of rationality is power. The dominant asocial and apolitical conceptualisation of MSP views it as a logical process, sitting above power, which will produce rational use of marine areas. The perceived rationality of MSP is based on an uncritical understanding of the production space, particularly how space is produced by powerful actors. We argue that rather than being viewed as inherently rational, MSP should be considered power-laden processes. Power may be present in a number of ways within MSP: political elites may define both the marine problem and its solution in a manner that suits their own agendas, or particular forms of 'knowledge' or 'norms' may be prioritised within the planning process. This paper presents a Foucauldian analysis of power within MSP processes in the UK. Adopting a governmentality framework, the paper analyses the problematizations, technologies, and rationalities of first UK marine plans.

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