Comparing environmental movements in periods of latency and visibility
Graduate Journal of Social Science, 4, (1), .
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The environmental movement is a network of organisations and individuals working for environmental improvement or the prevention of environmental degradation using institutional, semi- and non-institutional channels. This network consists of a variety of types of organisations that have a range of conservationist to radical strategies and beliefs, and are active from the very local level right up to the transnational level. The shape and form of this network, however, varies considerably from time to time. During ‘latent’ periods – temporary phases during which movement activity is invisible to the general public – movement organisations tend to become more isolated and local groups will be moribund or inclined to infighting, as ideological differences and differing fields of action prevent interaction. During ‘visible’ phases, during which movement activity is highly noticeable as a result of engagement in protest, the need to win a campaign may reduce ideological chasms and create denser networks of interaction. This paper demonstrates the stark differences between environmental movement networks at visible and latent times using data from surveys at two different points in time of the networks of environmental organisations in southeast London. During 2001, when the local community was fighting a proposal for a multiplex cinema to be built at Crystal Palace, the movement was relatively dense, and there was even evidence of networking between the most unlikely bedfellows of middle class residents’ associations and dreadlocked tree-dwellers. Two years later, when this campaign had been won, the movement had become much more fractured, and radical groups and residents’ associations had virtually disappeared from the network, burning the bridges they had created in the network as they evaporated. These differences are demonstrated using some basic social network analysis measures including network mapping.
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