Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy: An International Perspective

By Eric Monnier; George Gaskell et al. | Go to book overview

power), but the very system by which these decisions and plans are reached ( Sjostrom 1982; Burns and Midttun 1985).

The partial successes of opposition groups in the face of the very considerable economic, administrative, and political power of the industrial complex rests on (a) the ability of counter-institutional movements and groups, both locally as well as nationally and internationally, to redefine the situation in their own, terms and to develop collective counter-interpretations and analyses; in a word, an alternative-cultural framework; (b) the establishment and development by peripheral groups of their own organizations, the mobilization of resources and the derived capacity to oppose organizationally and strategically the industrial complex and its policies, plans, and practices ( Burns and Midttun 1985).

In many instances, the key to relatively effective opposition to the industrial complex was the formation of coalitions between local or regional opposition groups to specific plans or projects (often on grounds of cultural and economic interests in the area) and national environmental movements (with more "idealist" interests). 6 These movements are perceived by many policymakers as irritants, or worse, disruptive forces threatening law and order. And of course there is some truth or potential truth in this. At the same time, the movements open up opportunities for new policies and institutional innovation.

The basic conflicts between the industrial complex and the various interests and movements opposed to the further development of industrialization will continue and develop further. These movements could play an important role in energy conservation, particularly through social pedagogy and the establishment of new social norms and institutions. (The notion that social movements re-orient and re-new societies has been developed particularly by Touraine 1980, p.6).


CONCLUSION: POLICY AND STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

My general thesis has been relatively straightforward: no major developments in energy conservation can be expected from policymakers and powerholders within the industrial establishment. No great results in actual energy conservation can be expected in the near future, either through major policy initiatives or through spontaneous efforts by consumers in their everyday lives.

Indeed, radical decreases in energy consumption--the development of entirely new concepts, norms, and life-

-67-

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