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Grassroots Environmentalism


Part of Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

  • Date Published: October 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108745864

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About the Authors
  • Grassroots activism is essential to the success of the contemporary environmental movement, which depends on the organization of local activists as well as state, national, and international organizations. Yet grassroots activists confront numerous challenges as they attempt to organize diverse participants and devise fresh strategies and tactics. Drawing on more than seven years of fieldwork following diverse organizations in Pittsburgh over time, this book sheds light on the struggles that activists face and the factors that sustain movements. Suzanne Staggenborg examines individual motivations and participation, organizational structures and cultures, relationships in movement communities, and strategies and tactics, including issue framing. The book shows that collective action campaigns and tactics generate solidarity, maintain involvement, and bring in new participants even as organizers struggle to devise effective new types of actions.

    • Details participation in five grassroots organizations that vary by structure and culture
    • Examines organizational dynamics to offer important insight for activists seeking to make movements more effective and sustain energy over time
    • Reveals both what can be accomplished by grassroots activists and why organizing is so difficult
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Grassroots Environmentalism is an analytical and methodological tour-de-force. Drawing on years of fieldwork in diverse grassroots environmental groups, Staggenborg shows in illuminating detail how activism unfolds on the ground, from the inner workings of activist meetings, to debates over actions, to how groups change over time. This original and insightful account of how activists devise strategy and carry out their work is essential reading for scholars and activists alike.' Nancy Whittier, Smith College

    'This theoretically and empirically rich account of Pittsburgh's local grassroots environmental movement details the struggles of adapting organizational structures and strategies to maintain sustained mobilization. A brilliant tour de force by one of our most accomplished qualitative field workers. Engagingly written, this book will appeal to both scholars and students.' John D. McCarthy, The Pennsylvania State University

    'Grassroots Environmentalism brings readers inside the nitty-gritty of collective organizing, offering a realistic account of its trials and tribulations. The resulting study has broad utility for academics and activists alike.' Megan E. Brooker, Social Forces

    'The books two-word title simply signals its ambitions. Staggenborg seeks to provide a detailed account of different facets of grassroots environmentalism and show why and how local residents sometimes mobilize to protect the environment and what they are able to accomplish and the book meets that goal.' Matthew Baggetta, Mobilization

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108745864
    • length: 200 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Organization and strategy in social movements
    3. Grassroots environmentalism in Pittsburgh
    4. Environmental issues and framing work
    5. Mobilizing a grassroots environmental movement
    6. Creating movement infrastructure and community
    7. Social movement meetings
    8. Devising strategy
    9. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Suzanne Staggenborg, University of Pittsburgh
    Suzanne Staggenborg is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research examines the dynamics of social movements. She is the author of The Pro-Choice Movement: Organization and Activism in the Abortion Conflict (1991) and Social Movements (2016), and is the 2019 winner of the John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior.

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