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Wastewater Management in Industrial Zones of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta: A Socio-spatial Analysis of Environmental Management in a Transition Economy [PhD thesis].
29/10/20 09:23AM
Siwei Tan, Bonn University, 2014.
Abstract: Industrial zones were introduced to Vietnam in the late 1990s, and have sprouted across the country. The largely agrarian Mekong Delta boasts of hosting about a hundred industrial zones. Although important policy tools in attracting foreign investment, the zones also impact adversely upon the environment. Given their prevalence and policy weight, it is important to understand the workings of environmental management in the industrial zones. The triad of missing capacityfinancing- regulation is the common diagnosis for environmental management problems, and the structural features and contradictions of the Vietnamese state and its transition economy, which take centre stage in other analyses of the political economy, have been largely neglected. -- This work seeks to explore and reintroduce this context into its analysis of wastewater management in the industrial zones of the Vietnam Mekong Delta by employing an institutional analysis and an inductive research strategy. The qualitative empirical data comprises 100 semi-structured interviews with state agencies, companies, consultants, households affected by pollution, provincial documents, as well as media reports in four provinces along the Hau River during the period May 2011 to February 2012. -- Socio-spatiality was found to offer explanatory power and contextualised insights. The Vietnamese state administration system manifested itself vertically in hierarchical relations, and horizontally with ambiguous operational boundaries between agencies of technically equal standing. Both the operational mandates of the state agencies and even non-state monitoring processes were shaped by this administration structure. The industrial zone itself was vested with social and symbolic meanings accented by the spatial incompatibility between its physical location and management. Law was found to be the medium that expressed and facilitated these multiple dimensions of sociospatiality of hierarchy, place meanings, and operational territories. The institutional analysis shows itself, retrospectively, to be an implicitly spatial research strategy that does not incline to any one dimension of socio-spatiality. -- Thus, the rediscovery of multiple dimensions of socio-spatiality underpins this work’s call to better contextualise environmental management analyses through the implicitly spatial institutional analysis.

Free full text http://hss.ulb.uni-bonn.de/2015/4020/4020.htm.