Environmental Movements in Italy and Spain in Comparative Perspective. the Role of Ngos in Raising Awareness About Climate Change: the Example of the Melting of Glaciers

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IE University - Master in Global Environmental Change 2011 |

Alessandro Faia |

“Environmental movements in Italy and Spain in comparative perspective.

The role of NGOs in raising awareness about climate change: the example of the melting of glaciers.”

Introduction

The birth of the modern environmental movements can be traced back to the late 1960’s. At that time, an intellectual debate about the exploitation and potential depletion of natural resources—due to increased industrialization—arose in the developed countries. A new wave of scientists, social researchers and politicians began to question the dominant paradigm of economic growth (Clapp et al. 2005).

Environmental (and social) movements

Tilly (1994, cit. in Kousis et al. 2008) defines a social movement as a sustained challenge to power holders in the name of an interested population. The environmental movements are defined by Rootes (2005) as networks of informal interactions that may include organizations of varying degrees of formality. These organizations share an identity or a concern about the environment that leads them to a certain kind of collective action. In a nutshell, these two definitions shed light on a few salient characteristics of environmental movements: their scope of action is wide; they include different groups as well as individuals; their structure can be more or less formal but is also a common path for the same organization to shift from an informal structure to a more professional organization. Environmental movements are a direct expression of the New Social Movements that flourished in Europe in the 1970’s, new movements with a fluid organization (membership is replaced by participation) that addressed a new breed of issues like gender, sex, race and nature.

The Spanish environmental movement: key features

The development of the New Social Movements in Spain was clearly affected by the country’s transition to democracy. NSM were characterized by a low level of...

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