Blaming the Light, Claiming the Night
Blaming the Light, Claiming the Night. Actors, Issues and Effects of Lighting Conflicts in France since the 1980’s.
A paper of the RENOIR Research Group for the Lighting Conflicts Session, directed by Dietrich Henckel and Josiane Meier
Regarding environmental issues, conflictuality is a privileged way to reach the political arena. “Naming, Blaming, Claiming” : three steps that make the controversy emerge, constitute the public issue, then bring it to the political agenda . These three stages are clearly identifiable in the history of night protection associative movements [3,5,6]. These movements emerged in the 1970’s in the United States of America, quickly disseminated enjoying a broader context of environmental thinking [2,6].
Conflicts related to artificial lighting are structurally akin to conflicts of contradictory uses of a single resource: the night . For some – the technicists –, the night is the “good-support” for a specific economic activity and its technologies: urban lighting . For others – the environmentalists –, the “dark night” constitutes an ecosystemic service, which notably allows access to a specific resource: the starry sky [5,6]. The study of the regimes of justification  of the actors of conflicts shows that strong territorial disjunctions and cognitive dissonances make the dialogue difficult between the different “worlds” involved [1–3].
The night is a pure collective good, a total public good, irreducible, non-rival, non-excludable, non-appropriable and unbargainable. It therefore falls to the public authority and its “legitimate violence” to support its protection . In France, the State initiative named “Grenelle de l’Environnement” has enabled consideration of controversies related to artificial lighting by the positive law . Various laws and planning tools encourage territories to re-consider their public lighting, or to promote the darkness of the night as a new territorial and/or touristic resource [9,10].
We place our paper at the intersection between economics, geography and sociology of public territorial action. It aims to analyze 30 years of conflictualities, in France, around artificial lighting, overlapping three entries. (i) The various causes from the coming into dispute and the different types of conflicts. (ii) The actors, their “worlds” and regimes of justification . (iii) The effects of these conflicts on and in the territories (geographical, organizational or institutional proximities , consideration of the night and reconfigurations of public policy, etc.).
Urban lighting – Light pollution – Lighting conflicts – Controversy – Actors – Institutional frameworks – Spaces
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