Mind the (Mobilization) Gap: Comparing Climate Activism in the United States and European Union
32 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 1 Sep 2011
Date Written: August 12, 2011
The barriers to concerted political action on climate change mitigation are steep, especially in multilevel systems where power is diffused and authority contested. Yet action and mobilization - galvanising resources and people to participate actively - is possible, and in certain instances far reaching. This paper seeks to explain how mobilization occurs in complex multilevel systems. It compares two different polities - the United States and the European Union - to tease out the key features of multilevel systems and how they affect climate activism, mobilization and governance. Focusing particularly on climate activists - politically engaged participants - the paper analyses climate mobilization across three stages: awareness-building, alliance-building and network creation. It argues that successful mobilization is highly contingent on activists’ ability to exploit - or at least navigate - multilevel institutional barriers. To capture this mobilization dynamic, the paper develops the notion of ‘mobilization networks’ - stakeholder networks able to transcend levels and institutional inertia and steer polities towards particular climate goals.
Keywords: climate change, activism, multilevel, mobilization, European Union
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