Book

Environmental Protest in Western Europe

Edited by Christopher Rootes

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780199252060
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601064 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199252068.001.0001

Series: Comparative Politics

Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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It is frequently claimed that, as a result of the institutionalization of environmentalism in the years following its rapid rise in the 1970s and 1980s, the environmental movement has been demobilized, and that once radical groups have been incorporated into the web of policy‐making and consultation and have moderated their tactics to the point that lobbying and partnerships have displaced protest. Such claims were, however, based on casual observation and anecdote rather than systematic investigation of the incidence of protest, and during the 1990s, in several western European countries, the conventional wisdom was challenged by a resurgence of environmental protest that was sometimes markedly more confrontational than that of the 1980s. To determine whether there had indeed been a decline or deradicalization of protest, protest event analysis was undertaken of the environmental protests reported in one quality newspaper in each of eight countries–Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the Basque Country – during the 10 years 1988–97. No universal or monotonic decline of environmental protests was apparent during the decade, with reported protests declining and becoming less confrontational in some countries, but rising and becoming more confrontational in others. Most reported environmental protest was moderate and nondisruptive throughout the decade, and violent action remained rare. It was expected that opportunities created by the increased environmental competence of the European Union would produce a Europeanization of environmental protest, but there was no evidence of any increase in the proportions of protest mobilized on the level of, stimulated by, or targeted at the European Union and its institutions, all of which remained at very low levels in all of the countries. Nor was there evidence of Europeanization of environmental protest in the shape of convergence of national patterns of the incidence of protest. The patterns of the incidence of protest varied considerably and remained nationally idiosyncratic, with considerable cross‐national variations in the issues and the forms of protest tending to persist over time. Protest event methodology encounters problems of selection bias associated with cycles of media attention, and so, in the attempt better to understand these biases and their impact upon the pattern of reported protest, journalists and editors associated with the production of those reports were interviewed. On the basis of a protest event analysis of newspaper reports during a decade in which environmental protest was no longer novel, this investigation concludes that there is little or no evidence of the demobilization of environmentalism, and some that the institutionalization of environmental activism may be self‐limiting.

Keywords: activism; demobilization; environmentalism; European Union; Europeanization; institutionalization; mass media attention cycles; political opportunities; protest; protest event methodology

Book.  332 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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Table of Contents

Britain in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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France in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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Germany in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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Greece in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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Italy in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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Spain in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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The Basque Country in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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Sweden in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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Conclusion: Environmental Protest Transformed? in Environmental Protest in Western Europe

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