Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway

Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway

Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway

Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway

Synopsis

This timely and important study by leading academics is a comparative study of the environmental movement's successes and failures in four very different states: the USA, UK, Germany and Norway. It covers the entire sweep of the modern environmental era beginning in 1970. The analysis also explains the role played by social movements in making modern societies more deeply democratic, and yields insights into the strategic choices of environmental movements as they decide on what terms to engage, enter, or resist the state.

Excerpt

The political shape of the contemporary world owes much to at least two hundred years of interactions between states and social movements. the late twentieth century saw a proliferation of movements and the kinds of claims they make. Here we examine the significance of the environmental movement in particular, though we hope our study will interest students of social movements more generally. Environmentalism is emblematic of late twentieth- century social movements in its post-materialist commitments, the variety of struggles pursued under its banner, its linkages to other movements, and the kind of policy response it received from states. We look at the history of the movement since the 1960s, showing how and why the movement took shape in very different ways in four very different states: the passively inclusive United States, passively exclusive Germany, actively inclusive Norway, and the actively exclusive (at least for a substantial time) United Kingdom.

Interest groups, parties, mass mobilizations, protest businesses, and oppositional public spheres vary in their weight and significance across the four countries. We look at the movement's effectiveness in these four different contexts. We explain why the United States was an environmental policy pioneer in 1970 but then lost that standing; why Norway could then become a leader but is unlikely to improve upon a solid record; why the United Kingdom has been a laggard throughout; and why the most promising developments can now be found in Germany. the end in view is a green state, on a par with earlier transformations that produced first the liberal capitalist state and then the welfare state. of course, no green state exists yet.

The green state in our title and the emphasis on states in our analysis does not mean that we are in any sense statists, committed to a centralization of power in the state. Indeed, one feature of the green state may be an eventual dispersal of state functions across a broader array of political actors, and the migration of political authority down to local governance and up to trans- national bodies. Though in a fashion quite different from the traditional (and wrong) Marxist prognosis, one feature of the green state might be that it facilitates its own withering away. the focus on the state is for historical reasons: the state has mattered hugely in determining the prospects for different kinds of movements, and for better or for worse still does.

Though we are not statists, we are democrats. Indeed, our conception of democracy extends beyond the state and into society as a whole—specifically,

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