In this paper, I consider the role of public engagement in the management of urban environments and its ability to undermine post-political discourses. In particular, I explore the ways in which the ethical propositions of an apoliticized environment are variously taken up uncritically, challenged, and sometimes modified through the public’s engagement with de-politicized discourses of environment management. Drawing from a case study in Philadelphia involving ecological restoration volunteers, I argue that volunteerism provides opportunities for the marginalization of the public, but also for confrontation and modification of expert knowledge. Volunteers contest the conceptual underpinnings and desired outcomes of environmental management even as they discipline themselves according to its goals.
Gabriel, N. 2018. “Paradox and Possibility: Voluntarism and the Urban Environment in a Post-Political Era,” Social and Cultural Geography. DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2018.1474376