Faces of power in Integrated Coastal Zone Management: Case studies of Eilat and Aqaba
What happens on the coast, does not stay on the coast. Stakeholder power to shape decisions, agendas, and interests have a wide array of global consequences. Coastal management literature, however, pays relatively little attention to discussions of how power is used among stakeholders, limiting the inquiry to elitist and pluralist perspectives — who has the power and makes decisions. Consequently, power on the coast remains understudied. In political science, power has generated a considerable amount of debate. By contrast, research in environmental politics has tended to drift away from political theories. In turn, we use two power theories to fill the gap — non-decisions and consent to domination. We employed semi-structured interviews (thirty-one in total), archival histories, and participant observations to collect rich, thick data and to compare two case studies — Eilat (Israel) and Aqaba (Jordan). Our findings suggest that questioning coastal agendas through non-decisions can be a meaningful coastal planning tool. Further, we find that building consent to domination with regards to coastal interests is very difficult, if not impossible in Eilat. Yet, in Aqaba, sustainable development rhetoric conceals contested stakeholder interests about the greater good, coral reef loss, and other development impacts. Finally, we show that stakeholders in both cities indicate mainly tangible challenges on the coast. That is, power was not seen as a threat to future coastal management efforts. In sum, we expand the explanatory limits of the chosen theories and indicate the need to research intangible challenges on the coast. In particular, how agendas and interests are shaped through non-decisions and consent to domination?