How subjectivities and subject‑making influence community participation in climate change adaptation: the case of Vietnam

Van Thi Hong Le, Thong Tran, Maria Fay Rola‑Rubzen

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Critical scholars on power relations and climate change adaptation have highlighted the lack of community participation as a consequence of unbalanced power operations. Evidence about how unequal power relations and subject formation constrain public participation, however, is under-studied. In this paper, we utilised the intersection between community participation and the subjectivities lens to examine how a hierarchical political structure systematically operates to influence community engagement in adaptation and how and why local communities are included or excluded from adaptation as a result of subject-making, using Vietnam as a case study. Using 66 semi-structured interviews and ten focus group discussions involving policymakers, practitioners, local authorities, and communities, we examined how the key respondents stereotyped local roles and capacity in agricultural adaptation activities. Applying content analysis, we found that the general population in Vietnam is often framed as lacking knowledge and capacity to respond to climate impacts. Reflected through a traditional government-led model in two agricultural adaptation projects, the study showed that subtle but pervasive subjectivities and subject-making processes constrain community participation by affecting perceptions and, subsequently, actions of key stakeholders, undermining local roles and capacity in undertaking adaptation. These perpetuate the power imbalance between local communities and government entities. The findings contribute to the prevailing scholarship of climate change adaptation that, under an authoritarian regime, local capacity is undermined not only by powerholders but also by community members as they consent to government decisions.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalClimatic Change
    Issue number156
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


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