Contested emergency: Five gaming strategies between environmental and economic science-policy-society coalitions


  • Simo Sarkki Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu


The Greek word nomos is usually taken to mean a law or a convention governing human conduct. The concept has been developed to understand social and economic order comprising three aspects: appropriation, production and distribution. In the present paper, I focus on appropriation and define it as the knowledge claims being made and circulated in science-policy-society interactions. Three general rationales are identified: the linear (speaking truth to power), the co-production of knowledge (making sense together) and the post-truth (inventing facts for friends). The objective of the present paper is to examine how the environmental coalition has attempted to ease the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss and how the economic coalition has responded to these strategies as well as how both coalitions have used the three science-policy-society rationales. I will identify and discuss five game-theory inspired strategies that the environmental coalition has used as well as outline some examples on how the economic coalition has responded to the knowledge claims by the environmental coalition. The knowledge claims are not static but rather evolve dynamically in interactions between competing coalitions. This highlights the relevance of the recent idea that actors working at the science-policy-society nexus need to consider their opponents and tailor their knowledge claims not only based on science or on their own objectives but also in a way that counters and anticipates the opposite coalition’s knowledge claims and decisions. Based on the analysis, I propose that the interactions between environmental and economic coalitions can be understood as a “Contested Emergency”. This paper highlights the relevance of knowledge claims in shaping the complex landscape of environmental governance and the challenges for movement towards a post-fossil future. The knowledge claims regarding the contested emergency end up grounding certain visions of future spatial orders and imply fundamentally different possible nomoi ranging from sustaining the status quo build on economic growth through technological solutions to radical transformative measures seeking to avoid social-ecological collapse.

How to Cite

Sarkki, S. (2020). Contested emergency: Five gaming strategies between environmental and economic science-policy-society coalitions. Nordia Geographical Publications, 48(6), 7–30. Retrieved from