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On the relation between scholarship and action in environmental law: method, theory, change

Kotsakis, Andreas (2017) On the relation between scholarship and action in environmental law: method, theory, change. In: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Andreas and Brooks, Victoria, eds. Research Methods in Environmental Law. Edward Elgar, pp. 338-363. ISBN 978-1-78471-256-3. (doi:10.4337/9781784712570.00022) (KAR id:96870)


This chapter examines the intellectual phenomenon of theoretical aversion in legal scholarship, as it specifically manifests in environmental law. It first demonstrates how a proposed turn to methodology seeks to constrain theory within the strict contours of an epistemology that serves to support the scientific aspirations of legal scholarship. This notion of theory as epistemology is in turn linked to environmental law's overwhelming concern with controlling the relation between scholarship and action for the purpose of constituting itself as valid expert authority in the context of contemporary environmental discursive practices. Building on the critique of this view of theory as a pure research design element, the chapter articulates a different perspective, recovered from theoretical excess and inspired by the life and work of Michel Foucault, which merges the distinction between scholarship and action via the – correct – use of the metaphor of the 'tool box', often mishandled in Foucaultian scholarship. By reorienting this metaphor, the chapter argues that the contestation over the precise role of theory within environmental law relates to the historical evolution of the current role of the legal researcher who is expected to function solely as an expert on environmental change. The task of critical environmental law thus becomes to resist the assigned role within the established regime of environmental truth and to make novel and expansive contributions of the 'tool box' of environmental thought and practice.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.4337/9781784712570.00022
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Andreas Kotsakis
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 08:24 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 13:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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