“From regulation to self-protection. The strategic use of uncertainty regarding endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) public policies in France” - Université Paris-Est-Créteil-Val-de-Marne Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2023

“From regulation to self-protection. The strategic use of uncertainty regarding endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) public policies in France”

Abstract

Whether it comes to marine environments, agricultural lands, groundwater, or even our modern habitats, chemical pollution is becoming increasingly inevitable. The various effects of this “global contamination” are well documented. The 1990s marked the discovery of “endocrine disruptors”, a new class of chemicals interfering with the hormonal system. Despite several scientific statements that underline the impact of these synthetic chemicals on both human health and the environment, some aspects of this concept remain controversial such as the low-dose effects. Using a constructivist approach to the sociology of social problems and the framework of discursive analysis of public policies, we analyze how uncertainty is strategically used by groups competing with distinct interests during the elaboration of public policies aiming at tackling this issue in France. Based on ethnographic interviews with civil servants, environmental campaigners, and lay people and qualitative analysis of public and internal documents, we show how private firms impose “soft regulation” measures (e.g., information and communication policies) that allow them to preserve their economic activities. We thus explain how uncertainty becomes a register of justification for public action to govern bodies and individuals, while paradoxically, exposure to chemical substances is ubiquitous and remains a “collective risk”. Finally, the communication sets out the consequences of these “uncertain policies” in terms of environmental justice and gender inequalities.
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Dates and versions

hal-04319854 , version 1 (03-12-2023)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-04319854 , version 1

Cite

Yohann Garcia. “From regulation to self-protection. The strategic use of uncertainty regarding endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) public policies in France”. Colloque international “Uncertain times, unsettled lives? Complex risks and uncertainties in times of crises”, European Sociology Association (RN22) and International Sociology Association (TG04) Midterm Conference 2023, Oct 2023, University of Southern Denmark (Esbjerg), Denmark. ⟨hal-04319854⟩

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