Agency, Democracy, and Nature

Agency, Democracy, and Nature

The U.S. Environmental Movement from a Critical Theory Perspective

By Robert J. Brulle





In this book Robert Brulle draws on a broad range of empirical and theoretical research to investigate the effectiveness of U.S. environmental groups. Brulle shows how Critical Theory—in particular the work of Jürgen Habermas—can expand our understanding of the social causes of environmental degradation and the political actions necessary to deal with it. He then develops both a pragmatic and a moral argument for broad-based democratization of society as a prerequisite to the achievement of ecological sustainability. From the perspectives of frame analysis, resource mobilization, and historical sociology, using data on more than one hundred environmental groups, Brulle examines the core beliefs, structures, funding, and political practices of a wide variety of environmental organizations. He identifies the social processes that foster the development of a democratic environmental movement and those that hinder it. He concludes with suggestions for how environmental groups can make their organizational practices more democratic and politically effective.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262024808 360 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$36.00 X ISBN: 9780262522816 360 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • A striking and sobering study. Robert Brulle combines cultural theorywith sophisticated statistical techniques in order to deal with one ofthe most pressing practical problems of our time. His book is amongthe best I have read on environmentalism and its movements.

    Stephen Eric Bronner

    Rutgers University

  • Brulle's highly comprehensive and well-crafted study of ecological degradation, sustainability, and US environmental movements revives and enriches he ecological side of critical theory and makes a susbstantial contribution to interdisciplinary social theory as well as to social science. He carries on the richest thread of the critical theory tradition, combining incisive and historically informed social criticism with an affirmative theoretical vision of progressive change.

    Robert J. Antonio

    Department of Sociology, University of Kansas

  • Brulle's analysis of the development of the major strands of the American Environmental Movement represents a quantum leap in our understanding of the diversity and complexity of contemporary environmentalism in the U.SS and elsewhere. It's a must read for students of enviornmentalism.

    Riley E. Dunlap

    Boeing Distinguished Professor of Environmental Sociology, Washington State University

  • In a powerful blending of critical theory, organizational analysis,and discourse analysis, Agency, Democracy, and Nature provides a comprehensive picture of the limitations of the contemporary environmental movement and the democratic directions in which it needs to move to become more effective.

    J. Craig Jenkins

    Ohio State University