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Calculating climate: ‘advanced liberalism’ and the governing of risk in Australian drought policy


Higgins, V, Calculating climate: advanced liberalism' and the governing of risk in Australian drought policy, Journal of Sociology, 37, (3) pp. 299-316. ISSN 1440-7833 (2001) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2001 The Australian Sociological Association

DOI: doi:10.1177/144078301128756355


For most of last century, governments in Australia treated drought as a ‘natural disaster’, an event that could best be dealt with through public forms of financial assistance. However, following a Review of Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements in 1990, the official definition of drought was changed to a ‘manageable risk’ that farmers were seen to be able to predict and control through formal business planning techniques. Through the use of the literature on governmentality, this article argues that such a shift was of crucial significance in changing the rationalities and technologies of drought management. Farmers were, from this point, constituted as key agents in the management of risk. However, the article argues also that drought as a natural disaster was not completely abandoned and continues to remain important in defining the limits of drought as a managed risk, and in calling into question the capacities of farmers to plan for so-called exceptional events. This contestation of managed risk shows one of the ways in which advanced liberal forms of rule can be shaped in a ‘social’ manner.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:risk, drought policy, Australia
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Rural sociology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Higgins, V (Professor Vaughan Higgins)
ID Code:138191
Year Published:2001
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2020-03-26
Last Modified:2020-08-11
Downloads:25 View Download Statistics

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