Ideas and Actions in the Green Movement

Ideas and Actions in the Green Movement

Ideas and Actions in the Green Movement

Ideas and Actions in the Green Movement


The 'Western' green movement has grown rapidly in the last three decades: green ministers are in government in several European countries, Greenpeace has millions of paying supporters, and green direct action against roads, GM crops, the WTO and neo-liberalism, have become ubiquitous. The author argues that 'greens' share a common ideological framework but are divided over strategy. Using social movement theory and drawing on research from many countries, he shows how the green movement became more differentiated over time, as groups had to face the task of deciding what kind of action was appropriate. In the breadth of its coverage and its novel focus on the relationship between green ideas and action, this book makes an important contribution to the understanding of green politics.


The main aim of this book is to present a comprehensive description and analysis of the green movement using social movement theory as the main framework. However, to then avoid some of the normative issues that arise in relation to these movements would be artificial. On occasion, therefore, I have made normative arguments, which also reflect my own political commitments as a green. In part this book is an attempt by a green to understand my own movement. It is not primarily a contribution to debates among greens about what should be done, because that would require less detailed description and more explicitly normative debate. However, by presenting a definition of what the green movement is, I hope that this book might help other greens to understand why our movement is as it is and therefore have a more realistic appreciation of what has been achieved and what the constraints are affecting what can be done.

No book is ever written wholly alone and so the shadow authors of this work should also be brought into the light, although claiming them as authors does not mean that they bear any responsibility for the book's weaknesses.

Rosemary O'Kane, John Barry and Andrew Dobson commented on drafts of this book, a favour for which any author should be grateful. Tina Devey did great work on the bibliography. Others at Keele who helped without necessarily knowing it were Mat Paterson, Ben Seel, Kara Shaw, and Pauline Weston. At Routledge Annabel Watson was very patient about my failure to meet deadlines. Conversations and debate with many people in the green academic network have shaped the thinking in this book but a special mention should be made of Chris Rootes, Tom Cahill, Neil Carter, Mario Diani, Florence Faucher, Mike Kenny, Hilary Wainwright and Ian Welsh.

Most recently, working with Alexandra Plows and Derek Wall on a study of local direct action communities has convinced me that teamwork is better than going it alone. It has also deepened my respect for those heroic individuals, among whom Alex and Derek are two, who go further than the rest of us to put right the wrongs of this world and have fun while doing it.

The research in this book draws on over a decade of empirical work on green parties and green movements during which I have imposed on the time and goodwill of many green activists. Among green party representatives I am

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