Power/knowledge and natural resource management: Foucaultian foundations in the analysis of adaptive governance

Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen, Martijn Duineveld*, Monica Gruezmacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we present a conceptual framework extending Foucaultian insights on the relations between power and knowledge to link up with current insights into studies of natural resource management (NRM) and more broadly environmental studies. We classify discourses in NRM according to understandings of social–ecological systems and argue that grasping those larger contexts can push NRM in a different direction, forming a base for more informed and inclusive decision-making. We then reconstruct the importance of materiality, the physical world, for the functioning of NRM within social–ecological systems. The concept of livelihoods is added to our developing Foucaultian frame, as material/discursive entwinements which structure responses of many stakeholders in NRM. Finally, we present an expansion of Foucaultian NRM into adaptive governance thinking as a logical outcome of basic insights into power/knowledge, developed and contextualized in current NRM and its critical analyses

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-322
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • adaptive governance
  • Foucault
  • livelihoods
  • Natural resources management
  • power/knowledge
  • social–ecological systems


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