The Politics of Transformation: Local Activism in the Peace and Environmental Movements

The Politics of Transformation: Local Activism in the Peace and Environmental Movements

The Politics of Transformation: Local Activism in the Peace and Environmental Movements

The Politics of Transformation: Local Activism in the Peace and Environmental Movements

Synopsis

This book is a study of local grassroots activism in two major political areas, the peace and environmental movements, over a period of five years. Interviews with leaders of 166 different groups in five states (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, California, and Oregon) are supplemented by personal observation and the experience of participation in several of those groups. The major concerns are the group and movement successes both short-run and long-run, and activist group adaptations to change in the larger social and political world in light of political upheaval in Eastern Europe, the Gulf War, and several environmental crises that occurred during the period in question.

Excerpt

Political scientists have long concentrated on the impact or success of political interest groups, parties, elites, and a variety of publics but have only occasionally focused on political movements. Sociologists, in contrast, have created a rich literature on movements but have been more attentive to questions about the origins and survival of movements than to the impact of movement activities. (There are, of course, notable exceptions; some of that literature will be discussed below.) This study is an attempt to bridge those interests, with a focus on local and state activism in the peace and environmental movements in seven metropolitan areas in the United States.

CHOICES MADE FOR THIS STUDY

Why choose these movements at this point in time, and why at the level of communities and states? There are several reasons. First, foreign and military policy and, to a lesser degree, environmental issues, have long been a crucial part of the national political agenda and have generated considerable heat in debates, both because of the costs and because of the emotional baggage involved. In the peace movement, the problem was, until recently, the Cold War; for environmentalists (especially at the time of this writing, when the economy of the United States has not yet pulled out of a major downturn), the argument has been waged on the seeming conflict between jobs, economic development, and ecologically sound policies.

As the environmental costs of military installations, nuclear weapons production and, recently, the Persian Gulf War have become evident-- while at the same time, the prospect of closing military bases, with considerable impact on local economies, reaches the public agenda--the . . .

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