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A systematic review of the outcomes of sustained environmental collective action

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Abstract

Collective action plays a critical role in progressing efforts to protect the global environment. In this study we examined existing research that specified causal claims about the outcomes of sustained environmental collective action and analysed the collective action characteristics associated with the stated outcomes. Of the 640 studies identified in our literature search, 113 papers examined environmental collective action outcomes over a time period of one or more years. In total, 59 different environmental collective action outcomes were identified, including changing corporate/business practices (n = 16), achieving political outcomes (n = 12), fostering movement building (n = 8), development project-specific outcomes (n = 8), physical changes such as increased forest cover (n = 7), or changes in public opinion, values, or behaviours (n = 4). In terms of general outcomes (i.e., success of failure of environmental collective action) the most common outcome claimed was both success and failure (n = 44), followed by complete success (n = 37) and mostly failure (n = 18). All papers identified the use of normative collective action, while 36 papers mentioned non-violent non-normative action such as blockades and sit-ins. Across the dataset there was a lack of consistency in descriptive terminology, methodological approach and inclusion of empirical evidence in justifying causal claims. We close with recommendations for scholars’ best practices for advancing research into environmental collective action outcomes, namely: consistent terminology, mapping outcomes against goals, increased studies of failure, and diversifying studies in non-WEIRD contexts.

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A sustained groundswell of grassroots advocacy is required to trigger the urgent action required to solve our many global environmental problems. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics, issue focus, tactics and targets of this grassroots advocacy, we analyzed the website communications of 497 environmental movement organizations (EMOs) undertaking advocacy in Australia. Findings indicate that Conservation and Protection issues continue to dominate, although a wave of new climate change-related issue groups have emerged in recent years. Almost half of all groups operate at a local level. EMO websites suggest that their actions are primarily normative (vs. radical), and focus primarily on information provision. Of the 960 campaign targets identified, just over half were political, however, climate change, renewable energy and sustainability campaigns more often targeted individuals or business entities. We identify the areas where further investigation could advance the research agenda on grassroots environmental advocacy.
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The purpose of this chapter is to outline the development of the idea of "stakeholder management" as it has come to be applied in strategic management. We begin by developing a brief history of the concept. We then suggest that traditionally the stakeholder approach to strategic management has several related characteristics that serve as distinguishing features. We review recent work on stakeholder theory and suggest how stakeholder management has affected the practice of management. We end by suggesting further research questions.
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This article examines the influence of radical flank actors in shifting field-level debates by increasing the legitimacy of preexisting but peripheral issues. Using network text analysis, we apply this conceptual model to the climate change debate in the United States and the efforts of Bill McKibben and 350.org to pressure major universities to “divest” their fossil fuel assets. What we find is that, as these new actors and issue entered the debate, liberal policy ideas (such as a carbon tax), which had previously been marginalized in the U.S. debate, gained increased attention and legitimacy while the divestment effort itself gained limited traction. This result expands theory on indirect pathways to institutional change through a discursive radical flank mechanism, and suggests that the actual influence of Bill McKibben on the U.S. climate debate goes beyond the precise number of schools that divest to include a shift in the social and political discourse.
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The Bolivian Platform against Climate Change is a coalition of civil society and social movement organizations working to address the effects of global warming in Bolivia and to influence the global community. Many of the organizations use indigenous philosophy and worldviews to contest normative conceptions of development. A study of the growth of this movement drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in 2010 reveals a complex relationship between state and nonstate actors that has had a striking impact on the global community despite the failure of multilateral climate change negotiations. La Plataforma Boliviana Frente al Cambio Climático es una coalición de organizaciones de la sociedad civil y movimientos sociales trabajando para abordar los efectos del calentamiento global en Bolivia y para influenciar a la comunidad mundial. Muchas de las organizaciones utilizan filosofía y cosmovisiones indígenas para impugnar concepciones normativas de desarrollo. Un estudio del crecimiento de este movimiento basándose en el trabajo de campo etnográfico en 2010 revela una relación compleja entre actores esta-tales y no estatales que ha tenido un impacto sorprendente sobre la comunidad global a pesar del fracaso de las negociaciones multilaterales sobre el cambio climático.
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The view that emerged in the social science and religious literature is that Judeo-Christian tradition was in part responsible for the environmental crisis by fostering a "dominion mandate" or masteryover- nature orientation. Despite the growing significance of the environmental movement, most church bodies had not addressed the problem officially until the early 1990s. Several national and faith-based organizations evolved to catalyze interest and organize the movement. This paper examines whether those efforts resulted in a significant change in environmental attitudes, beliefs, or behavior among the religiously involved. Using data from the General Social Survey for 1993, 2000, and 2010, results indicate that the respondents' denominational identification, grouped in terms of its liberal, moderate, or fundamentalist orientation, was weakly but significantly associated with several indicators of environmentalism for all three study years. These associations remain relatively consistent throughout this period, suggesting little change overall in the relationship between religious identification and environmental concern.
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Social movements have an elusive power but one that is altogether real. From the French and American revolutions to the post-Soviet, ethnic, and terrorist movements of today, contentious politics exercises a fleeting but powerful influence on politics, society, and international relations. This study surveys the modern history of the modern social movements in the West and their diffusion to the global South through war, colonialism, and diffusion, and it puts forward a theory to explain its cyclical surges and declines. It offers an interpretation of the power of movements that emphasizes effects on the lives of militants, policy reforms, political institutions, and cultural change. The book focuses on the rise and fall of social movements as part of contentious politics in general and as the outcome of changes in political opportunities and constraints, state strategy, the new media of communication, and transnational diffusion.
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Environmental movements are networks of informal interactions that may include individuals, groups, and organizations engaged in collective action motivated by shared identity or concern about environmental issues. This article reviews literature on environmental movements (including antinuclear energy movements) according to four main aspects: the social bases and values underlying the movements' mobilization, the resources supporting their mobilization, the political opportunities channeling their mobilization, and the cultural framing processes through which environmental issues are defined as social and political problems to be addressed through mobilization. In addition, we consider the historical antecedents and roots of environmental movements. Finally, we discuss the interplay between the local and the global levels and the movements' impacts, a long neglected issue in the social movement literature. Our review highlights three main features of environmental movements: they are heterogeneous; they have profoundly transformed themselves; and they have generally become more institutionalized.
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Systematic review has developed as a specific methodology for searching for, appraising and synthesizing findings of primary studies, and has rapidly become a cornerstone of the evidence-based practice and policy movement. Qualitative research has traditionally been excluded from systematic reviews, and much effort is now being invested in resolving the daunting methodological and epistemological challenges associated with trying to move towards more inclusive forms of review. We describe our experiences, as a very diverse multidisciplinary group, in attempting to incorporate qualitative research in a systematic review of support for breastfeeding. We show how every stage of the review process, from asking the review question through to searching for and sampling the evidence, appraising the evidence and producing a synthesis, provoked profound questions about whether a review that includes qualitative research can remain consistent with the frame offered by current systematic review methodology. We conclude that more debate and dialogue between the different communities that wish to develop review methodology is needed, and that attempts to impose dominant views about the appropriate means of conducting reviews of qualitative research should be resisted so that innovation can be fostered.
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Coal is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. Alberta, a Canadian province, burns more coal for its electricity than the rest of Canada combined, emitting pollution impacting human and ecosystem health. This article profiles a policy-influencing alliance of health and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and explores the role of social work in developing effective policy change for phasing out coal in Alberta. The development of this network, its strategies, challenges, and successes are highlighted with an analysis of the elements of effective policy advocacy as a key social work practice.
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Is environmental action waxing or waning? Using the environmental modules of the International Social Survey Program from 1993, 2000, and 2010, two dimensions of environmental activism are described: environmental political activity and conservation behavior. Political activity has generally decreased, but in contrast, conservation behavior has become more common over the same time span. The correlates of these changes suggest that broad societal forces produced these trends, since most social groups follow these same trends, although some evidence was found of increased partisan polarization in Green activism.
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Findings from knowledge-building and theory-generating qualitative systematic reviews have the potential to help guide policy formation and practice in many disciplines. Unfortunately, this potential is currently hindered by the fact that rigorous data analysis methods have not been consistently used and/or articulated for purposes of conducting these types of reviews. Content analysis is a flexible data analysis method that can be used to conduct qualitative systematic reviews; however, its application in this context has not been fully explicated. Qualitative systematic reviewers who aim to build knowledge and generate theory are urged to adapt content analysis methods to accommodate data that are, by nature, highly organized and contextualized. In addition, they are encouraged to use reflective memoing and diagramming to ensure valid integration, interpretation, and synthesis of findings across studies. Finally, reviewers are advised to clearly and fully explain their data analysis methods in research reports.
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The third sector has a long history of environmental action and yet we lack systematic knowledge of the size, scope and activities of third sector organisations with an environmental mission. To address this gap, we analyse data from two databases – the Charity Commission's Register of Charities and the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations – to provide the first systematic analysis of registered environmental third sector organisations in England. As well as providing much-needed data on different aspects of the environmental organisations, the article draws comparisons with the rest of the third sector, offering insights into the distinctive characteristics of environmental activity. In undertaking this analysis, we highlight the methodological challenges of using these data sources to analyse any subsector or industry of the third sector in England.
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The question addressed is, when do disadvantaged-group members accept their situation, take individual action, or attempt to instigate collective action? Ss attempted to move from a low-status group into an advantaged, high-status group and were asked to respond to their subsequent rejection. Ss who believed that the high-status group was open to members of their group endorsed acceptance and individual actions. When access to the high-status group was restricted, even to the point of being almost closed (tokenism), Ss still preferred individual action. Disruptive forms of collective action were only favored by Ss who were told that the high-status group was completely closed to members of their group. Ss who believed they were near to gaining entry into the high-status group favored individual protest, while Ss distant from entry were more likely to accept their position. The theoretical and societal implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)