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From eco-labelling to product environmental footprint labelling: the symbolic government of economic conducts

Abstract : Several of today’s public policies aimed directly or indirectly at regulating the behaviors of individuals and organizations provide for the implementation of a certain type of instrument which can be qualified as a label. The French government has been using for several decades, as many other countries, an eco-label which some companies may use to differentiate their products on the basis of their environmental features, if they comply with high-level standards. Hence, the outcome of this mode of governance is not the uniformity of a field, but rather the ongoing creation of increasingly demanding labels that only some of the participants can hope to obtain. As a result, it may have no efficiency on economic actors that do not want to comply. For this reason, the government has recently developed another instrument, the carbon labeling, that each company may display in order to highlight the environmental performances of their products. The carbon labeling is designed to draw from competitive processes on the market to create a strong incitation for companies to enhance the environmental features of their products. Our contribution will analyze the dynamics underpinning these modes of governance of (and through) economic conducts. We propose to demonstrate that, rather than being the signal of a withdrawal of the state from economic regulation, its should be interpreted as a specific way of regulating markets through the shaping of consumers’ preferences, the creation of new market values and new business opportunities being pushed forward through public policy instruments.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 2, 2022 - 12:45:05 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 10:30:34 AM

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Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier. From eco-labelling to product environmental footprint labelling: the symbolic government of economic conducts. Workshop on “Labelling and the politics of markets” (Mines ParisTech), Oct 2016, Paris, France. ⟨hal-03594030⟩

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