Democracy and Sense of Place Values in Environmental Policy

Bryan G. Norton, Bruce M Hannon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


An important problem of modern society is to understand how constraints on resource use can be democratically imposed. Recent authors have expressed deep concern about the possibility that resource shortages will lead to totalitarian governments. They hypothesize that such governments would be the only effective means to enforce constraints on resource use and protect the environment from the inevitable consequences of human population growth, overconsumption of natural resources and social chaos (Hannon 1985; Heilbroner 1974; Kennedy 1993; Ophuls 1977, 1992). Ludwig et al. (1993) have provided an elegant argument – based in fisheries management but apparently susceptible to startling generalization – which calls into question the ability of democratic governments with free market economies to protect renewable resources once there has been heavy capitalization and development of exploitative industries. Must societies of the next millennium be undemocratic if they are to protect their natural resources?

In this paper we address one important aspect of the search for a democratically supportable policy that will sustain resources for future generations – the comparative role of national/centralized, regional/state, and local communities in the development of environmental policy. We distinguish two approaches to the evaluation, development, and implementation of policies to protect resources and environments. The two approaches (we will call them “top-down” versus “bottom-up”) differ most essentially in that the top-down approach emphasizes centralized control and decision making, while the bottom-up approach attempts to protect, to the extent possible, local prerogatives in setting environmental policy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSearching for Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Essays in the Philosophy of Conservation Biology
EditorsBryan G Norton
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780511613821
ISBN (Print)9780521809900, 9780521007788
StatePublished - 2002


Dive into the research topics of 'Democracy and Sense of Place Values in Environmental Policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this