Coalitions, Practices, and Meaning in Environmental Politics: From Acid Rain to BSE
In the late 1980s, I studied developments in environmental politics, a field that I had, until then, not examined in any detail. Given my background studying social movements and political institutions, I was intrigued by the ‘career’ of the environmental movement. In twenty years, it had transformed from a counter-cultural movement, practising the symbolic politics of street demonstrations, lifestyle choices, and alternative consumption (expressed in an elaborate and very visible urban circuit encompassing bookshops, wholemeal food stores, dress codes, communal households, and so on) to a more mainstream political force, seeking representation and influence through ‘green’ parties and professional lobbying (see Hajer, 1995). Upon reflection, it seemed obvious that much more was going on in environmental politics than fighting ‘environmental degradation’. The differences in style, both in terms of ways of life and of conducting politics, signalled that environmental politics was in fact a field of profound ‘cultural politics’. Environmental politics appeared to be a stage at which society reflected on its record: values were at risk, moral commitments were contested and the very form of conducting politics was questioned (Hajer, 1996).
KeywordsAcid Rain Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Discourse Analysis Dead Tree Environmental Politics
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