Benedicte Bull and Mariel Aguilar-Støen: Changing Elites,Insitutions and Environmental Governance
In Castro, F., Hogenboom, B., Baud M. (ed.) Environmental Governance in Latin America, 2016. Springer.
Benedicte Bull and Mariel Aguilar-Støen.
The topic of elites has always been controversial in Latin American social sciences. Elites have been studied indirectly as landowners, capitalists, business-leaders or politicians, and have also been approached directly using concepts and theory from elite studies. Although there is a significant amount of literature on the role of elites in democratic transformations (see e.g. Higley and Gunther, 1992), elites have often been considered to be an obstacle to the formation of more democratic, prosperous and egalitarian societies (e.g. Paige, 1997; Cimoli and Rovira, 2008). This is also the case in the literature on environmental governance, in which elite groups are often considered to be an obstacle to sustainable development and an obstacle to establishing more equitable influence over the use and benefits of natural resources. Therefore, although an elitist conservation movement has long existed in Latin America, struggles to protect the environment from overexploitation and contamination have commonly been related to struggles against local, national and transnational elites by subaltern groups (Martínez-Alier, 2002; Carruthers, 2008; chapters 1 and 2 in this volume).