Accepted paper:

The neoliberal governmentality of air pollutants: Informational Regulation of Particulate Matter in Korea


JooHui Kim (Seoul National University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the shift in Korean regulation on particulate matter, from total quantity control to information disclosure. It will draw attention to how “neoliberal effects” brought by the regulatory shift ultimately make issues of responsibility and scientific uncertainty unproblematic.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the controversies over the particulate matter (PM) regulation in Korea, analyzing a shift in regulatory approach from total quantity control to information disclosure. In 2002, the Korean Ministry of Environment initially intended to impose the regulation on total emission of PM. The original plan, however, failed amid mounting criticisms: private industries claimed that the government's attempt to regulate PM was unrealistic due to the lack of systematic measure for it. The Korean government instead introduced an "environmental information disclosure system" in order to address a multitude of uncertainties in controlling air pollution. Since 2010, the total amount of PM emitted by each regulated entity has been publicly announced as a part of the disclosure system. As I show, this informational turn brought into what can be characterized as "neoliberal effects" on the epistemic, moral, and political dimensions of environmental governance. I will ask the following questions: how does the critical issues of scientific uncertainty become obsolete? How does informational regulation reconstitute individuals and industries as the free agents of making "informed" and "responsible" choices for environment? How does informational regulation exercise its regulatory power through neoliberal governance? By analyzing these aspects, this paper shows how the problem of responsibility and uncertainty becomes unproblematic under the framework of information disclosure.

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