12 December 2009, thousands of people marched through Copenhagen towards the COP15 Climate Change Conference.

Image: Susie Smith

New book explores the patterns of conflict and cooperation between environmental organisations

In her new book, Environmental networks and social movement theory, Dr Clare Saunders, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Politics at the University of Exeter’s Environments and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and a member of the Politics department, investigates the extent to which social movement theory helps us understand the relationships between a broad range of environmental organisations.

Clare examines the practicalities of social movement theories and relates them to the practices of environmental networks. Her conclusions draw upon extensive survey material with 144 UK environmental organisations, as diverse as not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) groups, reformists, conservationists and radicals; interviews with more than 40 key campaigners and extensive participant-observation, particularly in London.

Published by Bloomsbury Academic Press, the volume addresses the inevitable ideological clashes and a degree of sectarian rivalry, which exist within these vibrant environmental networks that together work to protect and/or preserve the environment.

Dr Clare Saunders said “I decided to write this book in order to explore some quite complex social movement theories and test their applicability to environmental activism. I wanted to show that these theories, often seen as competing, can actually be quite complementary. To understand conflict and cooperation among environmental organisations, we need to consider the resources they have at their disposal, the socio-political environment they find themselves in and the culture of their participants."

Clare has also contributed to a number of other edited collections, including Dropping the debt? British anti-debt mobilizations and international development policy (Routledge, 2010), The British humanitarian, aid and development organisations 1945-2007 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and The global justice movement in Great Britain (Paradigm Press, 2008). Her co-authored chapter, Movements, published in Critical Environmental Politics (Routledge, 2013) will be published in September 2013.

As a political social scientist, working within an interdisciplinary research institute, Dr Clare Saunders’ research interests are broad, ranging from exploring why protesters take to the streets, to investigating whether local energy saving initiatives can help householders reduce their energy demand.

Date: 3 July 2013

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