Capture and crush: Gas companies in the fracking dispute and deliberative depoliticization
Multi-stakeholder governance arrangements involving co-operation between public and non-state actors are a vital part of the governance landscape for addressing social impacts resulting from resources development. Yet, the current mantra for ‘collaboration’ has gained relative credibility and legitimacy without scrutiny of the democratic characteristics and quality of these institutional arrangements. This article responds to this normative concern by examining the implications for the democratic legitimacy of multi-stakeholder governance arrangements in cases where private resource extraction companies, who do not necessarily act in the public interest, exercise a ‘metagovernance’ role. We explore this topic through a qualitative case-study comparison of affordable housing governance in regions impacted by unconventional gas development in Australia and the United States. We argue that while multi-stakeholder governance arrangements convened by resource extraction companies can support situations of democracy under certain conditions, resource extraction companies structure the processes within these collaborative arrangements to the benefits of specific actors, notably the extractive companies themselves and other profit-orientated actors. In particular, we illustrate the depoliticizing effects of these institutions, whereby in some cases, they are used to constrain debates about the social impacts of extractives development, and circumscribe certain types of actors from participation in deliberative debate and decision-making. We underscore the importance of state intervention in ensuring communicative processes induced by corporate actors proceed according to the principles of deliberative democracy.
Wilson, C. E.; Morrison, T. H.; Everingham, J. A.; and McCarthy, J., "Capture and crush: Gas companies in the fracking dispute and deliberative depoliticization" (2018). Geography. 142.