Culture and Environment in the Pacific Northwest
Department of Politics
Willamette University - Atkinson Graduate School of Management
American Political Science Review, Vol. 91, No. 4, pp. 885-897, December 1997
Douglas and Wildavsky argue that environmental activism is rooted in an egalitarian cultural bias. Others, like Paehlke, counter that environmental commitments and concerns are autonomous from redistributive concerns. Students of the "New Politics" agree that environmentalism is autonomous from conventional left-right distributive concerns but also argue that environmental attitudes and beliefs are embedded in 'postmaterial' values, such as citizen participation. Still other scholars emphasize a cultural consensus around environmental values and beliefs. What distinguishes environmental activists, in this view, is less what they believe than their willingness to make sacrifices for those values and beliefs. Drawing upon several surveys of environmental groups and the mass public in the Pacific Northwest, we test these four hypotheses and find that the Douglas-Wildavsky "cultural theory," although not without its limitations, appears to provide the more satisfactory account of environmental preferences. We think that this goes a long way toward explaining the persistent opposition of environmental activists to the use of market-oriented incentive mechanisms to fix environmental problems.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 13
Keywords: environmental activism, cultural theory, market-oriented incentive mechanisms
JEL Classification: A13, D78, Q28, Q29, Q38, Q39, P16
Date posted: April 23, 2008
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