This chapter seeks to explore questions surrounding one aspect of a common response to environmental problems in East Central Europe (ECE): social and political mobilisation in the form of environmental movements. Recent work by a number of authors has described the socialist and post-socialist history, politics and sociology of such mobilisations both in ECE and Russia (Hicks 1996; K. Pickvance 1998; Tickle and Welsh 1998; Weiner 1999) but usually from only a national or regional perspective. Other country-based chapters within this volume also note the role such environmental movements play in national environmental politics.
However, in this contribution, we attempt to place this role within a broader context by examining the specificities of environmental movement activity in relation to agents and institutions operating outside and above the level of the nation state. In particular we wish to overview claims made regarding the role of environmental organisations within a seemingly globalised world and then examine in particular the relation of East Central European environmental groups to such external networks and circuits of power. In this analysis we seek to recognise the diversity of environmental movements in ECE along a spectrum from small, non-institutionalised groupings who favour less formalised repertoires of action at a range of spatial levels (local to global) to more organised collectivities (usually registered with state bodies as non-governmental organisations) who work within formal political opportunity structures - principally domestic but also international. In the context of globalisation, a consideration and differentiation of these often separate - yet linked - modes of engagement with power is important, though not unproblematic. This raises the question, forming a core part of this chapter, of the extent to which ECE environmental movements are part of a 'world civic politics' that has already been proposed for 'northern' (predominantly western) environmental organisations (Wapner 1995, 1996). This will also involve a reworking of the interplay of national and international government and governance issues (raised by Baker in Chapter 2) and the means by which environmental activists and movements seek to engage (or not) with such institutionalised power.