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Paperback | $36.00 Short | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780262522816 | 359 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 2000

Agency, Democracy, and Nature

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


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.

About the Author

Robert J. Brulle is Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science in the Department of Culture and Communications at Drexel University. He is the author of Agency, Democracy, and Nature: The US Environmental Movement from a Critical Theory Perspective (MIT Press, 2000).


"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 analysis of the development of the major strands of theAmerican environmental movement represents a quantum leap in ourunderstanding of the diversity and complexity of contemporaryenvironmentalism in the U.S. and elsewhere. It is must reading forstudents of environmentalism."
Riley E. Dunlap, Boeing Distinguished Professor of EnvironmentalSociology, Washington State University

"Brulle's highly comprehensive and well-crafted study of ecologicaldegradation, sustainability, and U.S. environmental movements revivesand enriches the ecological side of critical theory and makes asubstantial contribution to interdisciplinary social theory as well asto social science. He carries on the richest thread of the criticaltheory tradition, combining incisive and historically informed socialcriticism with an affirmative theoretical vision of progressivechange."
Robert Antonio, University of Kansas

"In a powerful blending of critical theory, organizational analysis,and discourse analysis, Agency, Democracy, and Nature providesa comprehensive picture of the limitations of the contemporaryenvironmental movement and the democratic directions in which it needsto move to become more effective."
J. Craig Jenkins, Ohio State University