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Professor Clare Saunders

Professor Clare Saunders

Professor in Environmental Politics

 01326 259466

 Environment and Sustainability Institute 2.33


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK


My areas of research expertise are social movements and protest, climate and energy politics, and social networks. I am involved with several interdisciplinary projects, ranging from exploring why protesters take to the streets, to investigating whether local energy saving initiatives can help householders reduce their energy demand. I measure the extent to which a variety of organisations, including industry lobby groups, influence climate change policies.

You can find out more by watching a two-minute video of me explaining my work.


2005 PhD Environmental Social Science (University of Kent) 
2000 MSc Integrated Environmental Studies (University of Southampton)
1998 BA in Geography/History (University of Southampton)


2014 Associate Professor, University of Exeter
2013 Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter
2011-2012 Senior Lecturer, University of Southampton
2008-2012 RCUK Academic Fellow, University of Southampton

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Research interests

  • Social movements and protest (especially those related to environmental issues)
  • Social and political networks
  • Environmental issues in the media
  • Climate and energy politics
  • Behaviour change

Research projects

  • Comparing climate change policy networks
  • Caught in the act of protest: contextualising contestation
  • Community based initiatives in energy saving
  • Making methods matter: embedding employability, enhancing experience

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Roth S, Saunders C (2023). Organising for Change: Social Change Makers and Social Change Organisations. Bristol, Bristol University Press
Saunders C (eds)(2021). Re:Fashion. Falmouth, Juniper Bespoke
Saunders C (eds)(2019). When Citizens Talk About Politics. Routledge
Saunders C (2013). Environmental Networks and Social Movement Theory., Bloomsbury USA
Connelly J, Smith, G, Benson, D, Saunders C (2012). Politics and the Environment: from Theory to Practice, 3rd Edition.
Banya M, Armstrong C, Mason A, McGhee D, McGrew A, Owen D, Saunders C, Smith G, Stoker G (2011). Prospects for Citizenship.

Journal articles

Rainsford E, Saunders C (In Press). Young climate protesters' mobilization availability: Climate marches and school strikes compared. Frontiers in Political Science
Saunders C, Griffin I, Hackney F, Barbieria A, Hill KJ, West J, Willett J (2024). A social practices approach to encourage sustainable clothing choices. Sustainability, 16
Saunders C, Patel D (2024). Diverse voices, sticky maps and wicked patterns. Using creative methods to explore environmental justice. Green Humanities:A Journal of Ecological Thought in Literature, Philosophy & the Arts
Saunders C (2024). Grassroots environmentalism. SOCIAL MOVEMENT STUDIES, 23(1), 129-130 Author URL.
Keshavarzi S, Saunders C, Karimi M (2023). Persistent anti-littering activism in a non-Western context: the case of. the Nature Cleaners Movement in Iran. Society & Natural Resources, 36(10), 1181-1199
Dunn A, Saunders C (2023). Unemployed people’s attitudes regarding labour market choices and welfare conditionality. Journal of Social Security Law, 1(1)
Garland J, Saunders C, Olcese C, Tedesco D (2022). Anti-fracking campaigns in the United Kingdom: the influence of local opportunity structures on protest. Social Movement Studies, 22(2), 211-231
Saunders C (2022). How Social Movements (Sometimes) Matter. SOCIOLOGY-THE JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, 56(5), 1048-1050 Author URL.
Willett J, Saunders C, Hackney F, Hill K (2022). The affective economy and fast fashion: Materiality, embodied learning and developing a sensibility for sustainable clothing. Journal of Material Culture, 27(3), 219-237
Dunn A, Saunders C (2022). ‘The Rise of Mass Poverty’? Breadline Britain/Poverty and Social Exclusion (1983–2012) Evidence Revisited. Social Indicators Research, 164(2):947-947, 947-965
West J, Saunders C, Willet J (2021). A bottom up approach to slowing fashion: Tailored solutions for consumers. Journal of Cleaner Production, 296
Saunders C, Shlomo N (2021). A new approach to assess the normalization of differential rates of protest participation. Quality and Quantity, 55(1), 79-102
Saunders C (2021). Preaching to the converted? Who attended the Camborne, Cornwall Corbyn rally in August 2017?. BRITISH POLITICS, 16(4), 375-397 Author URL.
Keenan C, Saunders C, Price S, Hinchliffe S, McDonald R (2020). From Conflict to Bridges: Towards Constructive use of Conflict Frames in the Control of Bovine Tuberculosis. Sociologia Ruralis, 60(2), 482-504
Hackney F, Saunders C, Willett J, Hill K, Griffin I (2020). Stitching a sensibility for sustainable clothing: Quiet activism, affect and community agency. Journal of Arts and Communities, 35-52
Roth S, Saunders C (2019). Do gender regimes matter? Gender differences in involvement in anti-austerity protests - a comparison of Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Social Movement Studies, 19(3), 303-324
Bardsley N, Buechs M, James P, Anastasios P, Thomas R, Saunders C, Graham S, Wallbridge R, Nicholas W (2019). Domestic thermal upgrades, community action and energy saving: a three-year experimental study of prosperous households. Energy Policy, 127, 475-485
Roth S, Saunders C (2019). Gender Differences in Political Participation: Comparing Street Demonstrators in Sweden and the United Kingdom. Sociology, 53(3), 571-589
Saunders C, Jennings W (2019). Street Demonstrations and the Media Agenda: an Analysis of the Dynamics of Protest Agenda-Setting. Comparative Political Studies, 52, 2283-2313
Saunders C, Grasso MT, Hedges C (2018). Attention to climate change in British newspapers in three attention cycles (1997–2017). Geoforum, 94, 94-102
Price S, Saunders C, Hinchliffe S, McDonald RA (2017). From contradiction to contrast in a countryside conflict: Using Q Methodology to reveal a diplomatic space for doing TB differently. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 49(11), 2578-2594
Broadbent J, Sonnett J, Botetzagias I, Carson M, Carvalho A, Chien Y-J, Edling C, Fisher D, Giouzepas G, Haluza-DeLay R, et al (2016). Conflicting Climate Change Frames in a Global Field of Media Discourse. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 2, 237802311667066-237802311667066
Saunders C (2016). the future of social movements and social movement research in a globalizing world. EUROPEAN POLITICAL SCIENCE, 15(1), 143-146 Author URL.
Büchs M, Saunders C, Wallbridge R, Smith G, Bardsley N (2015). Identifying and explaining framing strategies of low carbon lifestyle movement organisations. Global Environmental Change, 35, 307-315
Saunders C (2015). Not to mock modes of coordination (moc), but to raise important questions about their measurement. Partecipazione e Conflitto, 8(3), 896-904
Caiani M, Bassoli M, Saunders C, Crossley N, Pavan E, De Fazio G, Nicholls WJ (2015). The Cement of Civil Society: Studying Networks in Localities. PARTECIPAZIONE E CONFLITTO, 8(3), 876-931 Author URL.
Saunders C (2014). Anti-politics in action? Exposing measurement dilemmas in the study of unconventional political participation. Political Research Quarterly, 67(3), 574-588
Saunders C, Büchs M, Papafragkou A, Wallbridge R, Smith G (2014). Beyond the Activist Ghetto: a Deductive Blockmodelling Approach to Understanding the Relationship between Contact with Environmental Organisations and Public Attitudes and Behaviour. Social Movement Studies, 13(1), 158-177
Olcese C, Saunders C, Tzavidas N (2014). In the streets with a degree: How political generations, educational attainment and student status affect engagement in protest politics. International Sociology, 6(29), 525-545
Roth S, Saunders C, Olcese C (2014). Occupy as a free space: Mobilization processes and outcomes. Sociological Research Online: an electronic journal, 1(19)
Saunders C (2014). Protest, Inc. The corporatization of activism. ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS, 23(6), 1115-1117 Author URL.
Waddell P, Millard D, Saunders C (2014). Stop G8 - an ethnographic account of web use in global justice activism. WebSci 2014 - Proceedings of the 2014 ACM Web Science Conference, 269-270
Dunn A, Grasso M, Saunders C (2014). Unemployment and attitudes to work: Asking the "right" question. Work, Employment and Society, 28(6), 904-925
Saunders C, Büchs M, Papafragkou A, Wallbridge R, Smith G (2013). Beyond the activist ghetto: a deductive blockmodeling approach to understanding the relationship between contact with environmental organisations and public attitudes and behaviour. SMS, 1(13), 158-177
Ryan M, Saunders C, Rainsford E, Thompson E (2013). Improving research methods teaching and learning in politics and international relations: a reality show approach. Politics, 1(34), 85-97
Saunders C (2013). Insiders, thresholders and outsiders in West European global justice networks: Network positions and modes of coordination. European Political Science Review, 2(6), 167-189
Clifford D, Geyne-Rajme F, Smith G, Edwards R, Büchs M, Saunders C (2013). Mapping the environmental third sector in england: a distinctive field of activity?. Voluntary Sector Review, 4(2), 241-264
Saunders C, Grasso M, Olcese C, Rainsford E, Rootes C (2012). Explaining differential protest participation: Novices, returners, repeaters and stalwarts. Mobilization: an international journal, 17(3), 263-280
Saunders C (2012). Reformism and radicalism in the Climate Camp in Britain: Benign coexistence, tensions and prospects for bridging. Environmental Politics, 21(5), 829-846
Saunders C (2011). Unblocking the path to effective block modeling in social movement research. Mobilization: an international journal, 16(3), 283-302
Saunders C, Price S (2009). One person's eu-topia, another's hell: Climate Camp as a heterotopia. Environmental Politics, 18(1), 117-122
Saunders C (2008). Double edged swords: Collective identity and solidarity in the environment movement. British Journal of Sociology, 59(2), 227-253
Saunders C (2008). It's not just structural: Social movements are not homogenous responses to structural features, but networks shaped by organisational strategies and status. Sociological Research Online, 14(1)
Saunders C (2008). The stop climate Chaos coalition: Climate change as a development issue. Third World Quarterly, 29(8), 1509-1526
Saunders C (2007). Comparing Environmental Movements in Periods of Latency and Visibility. Graduate Journal of Social Science, 1(4), 109-139
Saunders C (2007). The national and the local: Relationships among environmental movement organisations in London. Environmental Politics, 16(5), 742-764
Saunders C (2007). Using social network analysis to explore social movements: a relational approach. Social Movement Studies: journal of social, cultural and political protest, 3(6), 227-243


Saunders C (2024). Environmental movements and environmental political theory in the Anthropocene. In Wissenburg M, Luke V, Amanda M (Eds.) Edward Elgar Handbook of Environmental Political Theory in the Anthropocene, Edward Elgar
Saunders C (2024). UK environment and climate change politics. In Willett J, Giovannini A (Eds.) An Introduction to UK Politics: Place, Pluralism and Identities, London: Sage, 271-289.
Saunders C, Rainsford E (2024). Using surveys to study demonstrators. In Cox L, Szolucha A, Lozano A, Chattopadhyay S (Eds.) Edward Elgar Handbook of Research Methods and Applications for Social Movements, Edward Elgar
Saunders C (2022). Contentious politics: Politics as claims-making. In  (Ed) The Routledge Handbook of Social Change, 315-325.
Saunders C (2022). Environment and climate. In Anghel V, Jones E (Eds.) Developments in European Politics 3, Red Globe Press
Roth S, Saunders C (2022). Micro-level effects of political participation. In Giugni M, Grasso M (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior, Oxford University Press
Saunders C (2022). Social networks and recruitment. In Guigni M, Grasso M (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Environmental Movements, London: Routledge
Hackney F, Saunders C, Hill K, Willett J (2021). Changing the world not just our wardrobes: a sensibility for sustainable clothing, care and quiet activism. In Veronica M (Ed) Routledge Fashion Companion,
Doherty B, Saunders C (2021). Global Climate Strike protests and media coverage of the protests in Truro and Manchester. In Mesinas AM, Pickard S, Bessant J (Eds.) When Students Protest, London: Rowman and Littlefield
Saunders C (2020). Climate change protesters in Britain: Political ecologists, or something else?. In Prendiville B, Haigron D (Eds.) Political Ecology in Britain, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 65-88.
Saunders C, Bert K (2019). Anti-politics Statements in Fast Thinking: What Comes to Mind First When Thinking About Politics. In Saunders C, Klandermans B (Eds.) When Citizens Talk About Politics, Routledge
Saunders C (2019). Conclusion: How Citizens Talk About Electoral and Protest Politics, a Cross-Country Comparison. In Saunders C, Klandermans B (Eds.) When Citizens Talk About Politics, Routledge
Price S, Saunders C (2019). Discussing Politics in the UK: Non-Violence, Representativeness, Consistency and Fairness and Constitutional Values. In Saunders C, Klandermans B (Eds.) When Citizens Talk About Politics, Routledge
Saunders C, Klandermans B, Price S, Garyfallou A, Hutter S (2019). Introduction: When Citizens Talk About Politics: Towards an Analytical Framework. In Saunders C, Klandermans B (Eds.) When Citizens Talk About Politics, Routledge
van Bezouw MJ, Garyfallou A, Oană I-E, Rojon S, Saunders C (2019). Methodological Appendix. In Saunders C, Klandermans B (Eds.) , Routledge
Saunders C, Roth S (2019). NGOs and Social Movement Theory. In Davies T (Ed) Routledge Handbook of NGOs and International Relations, Routledge
Saunders C, Roth S (2019). NGOs and social movement theory. In  (Ed) Routledge Handbook of NGOs and International Relations, Taylor & Francis, 138-152.
Saunders C, della Porta D, Andretta M (2017). Globalization and Social Movements. In Snow D (Ed) The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Social Movements,
Saunders C, Büchs M, Papafragkou A, Wallbridge R, Smith G (2016). Beyond the activist ghetto: a deductive blockmodelling approach to understanding the relationship between contact with environmental organisations and public attitudes and behaviour. In  (Ed) Social Networks and Social Movements: Contentious Connections, 158-177.
Saunders C, Roth S, Olcese C (2015). Are we really “all in it together?”: Anti-austerity protests in Britain. In Guigni M, Grasso M (Eds.) Austerity and Protest: Popular Contention in Times of Economic Crisis, Routledge, 171-191.
Saunders C, Kemp S, Kendall J, Warren A, Wright L, Canning J, Grace M (2015). Global consensus is a dream but Twitter is real: Simulating a development goals summit through interdisciplinary classroom politics and negotiation by social media. In Leal Filho W, Brandli L, Kuznetsova O, Paco A (Eds.) Integrative Approaches to Sustainable Development at University Level, Springer, 551-566.
Saunders C (2015). The challenges of using survey instruments to measure the identities of green protesters’. In Jasper J, McGarry A (Eds.) The Identity Dilemma, Temple University Press, 85-107.
Olcese C, Saunders C (2014). British students in the winter protests: Still a new social movement?. In  (Ed) Higher Education in the UK and the US: Converging University Models in a Global Academic World?, 250-271.
Olcese C, Saunders C (2014). Students in the winter protests: Still a new social movement?. In  (Ed) Higher Education in the UK and the US: Converging Models in a Global Academic World?, Leiden: Brill Publishers
Saunders C, Dunn A, Grasso M (2014). Who agrees that “having almost any job is better than being unemployed?. In Dunn A (Ed) Rethinking Unemployment and the Work Ethic: Beyond the ‘Quasi-Titmuss' Paradigm, Palgrave MacMillan, 114-147.
Saunders C (2013). Activism. In Snow DA, della Porta D, Klandermans B, McAdam D (Eds.) Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements, Wiley
Saunders C (2013). Friends of the Earth. In Snow DA, della Porta D, Klandermans B, McAdam D (Eds.) Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements,
Price S, Saunders C, Olcese C (2013). Movements. In  (Ed) Critical Environmental Politics, Routledge, 165-174.
Saunders C, Rootes C (2013). Participation in global justice movement organisations. In  (Ed) Meeting Democracy, 72-96.
Saunders C, Papafragkou T (2012). Dropping the debt? British anti-debt campaigns and international development policy. In Utting P, Pianta M, Ellersiek A (Eds.) Global justice activism and policy reform in Europe: Understanding when change happens, London: Routledge, 213-234.
Saunders C, Rootes C (2011). Patterns of participation. In  (Ed) Meeting Democracy: Power and Deliberation in Global Justice Movements, 72-96.
Milns S, Rootes C, Saunders C, Swaine G (2010). The European Court of Human Rights in the United Kingdom - litigation, rights protection and minorities. In Aaagnostou D, Psychogiopoulou E (Eds.) The European Court of Human Rights and protection of the Marginalized, Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 183-208.
Saunders C (2009). British humanitarian, aid and development NGOs, 1949-present. In  (Ed) NGOs in Contemporary Britain: Non-state Actors in Society and Politics since 1945, 38-58.
Saunders C (2009). Organizational resources and democratic conceptions: is big or small beautiful?. In  (Ed) Democracy in Movements: Conceptions and Practices of Democracy in Contemporary Social Movements, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 150-170.
Saunders C (2009). Organizational size and democratic practices: can large be beautiful?. In  (Ed) Democracy in Social Movements, 150-170.
Millns S, Rootes C, Saunders C, Swain G (2009). The European court of human rights in the UK: Litigation, rights protection and minorities. In  (Ed) The European Court of Human Rights and the Rights of Marginalised Individuals and Minorities in National Context, 183-207.
Saunders C, Andretta M (2009). The organizational dimension: How organizational formality, voice, and influence affect mobilization and participation. In  (Ed) Another Europe: Conceptions and practices of democracy in the European Social Forums, 128-148.
Saunders C (2008). British humanitarian, aid and development organizations 1945-2007. In Hilton M, Crowson M, McKay J (Eds.) NGOs in Contemporary Britain: Non-state Actors in Politics Since 1945, Palgrave, 38-58.
Saunders C, Andretta M (2008). The organizational dimension: the effect of organizational formality, voice and influence on mobilization and participation in the global justice movement. In della Porta D (Ed) Another Europe is Possible: Conceptions and Practices of Democracy in the European Social Forum, London: Routledge, 128-148.
Rootes C, Saunders C (2007). Le développement du mouvement pour une justice globale en Grande-Bretange. In Sommier I, Agrikoliansky E, Fillieule O (Eds.) La généalogie des mouvements anti-globalisation en Europe. Une perspective comparée, Paris: Karthala, 67-86.
Rootes C, Saunders C (2007). The Global Justice Movement in Great Britain. In Della Porta D (Ed) The Global Justice Movement: Cross-national and Transnational Perspectives, Boulder, USA: Boulder, Paradigm Publishers, 128-156.

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Supervision / Group

Postgraduate researchers

  • Phillip Passmore

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