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Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform

Uses both social and ecological theory to explain the occurrence of environmental reforms
Illustrates the argument using detailed examples from both developing and developed countries
Introduces the idea of a sustainable development state as a political arrangement capable of making societies sustainable

By: Thomas K Rudel (Author)

262 pages, 14 b/w illustrations, 2 tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Oct 2014 | #215322 | ISBN-13: 9781107448568
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £30.99 $38/€35 approx
Hardback | Apr 2013 | #215321 | ISBN-13: 9781107030527
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £71.99 $88/€80 approx

About this book

As global environmental changes become increasingly evident and efforts to respond to these changes fall short of expectations, questions about the circumstances that generate environmental reforms become more pressing. Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform answers these questions through a historical analysis of two processes that have contributed to environmental reforms, one in which people become defensive environmentalists concerned about environmental problems close to home and another in which people become altruistic environmentalists intent on alleviating global problems after experiencing catastrophic events such as hurricanes, droughts and fires. These focusing events make reform more urgent and convince people to become altruistic environmentalists. Bolstered by defensive environmentalists, the altruists gain strength in environmental politics and reforms occur.

"A marvelous contribution to environment-society theory. Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform is a crowning achievement, drawing on insights garnered from Rudel's long and distinguished career."
- S. R. Brechin, Syracuse University

"Countering the pessimism of much environmental scholarship, Rudel offers a compelling macro theory of global sustainability, grounded in locally motivated environmental initiatives. His thoughtful analysis of the conditions under which defensive environmentalism scales up charts a new direction for analyzing the trajectories of coupled human-natural systems."
- Simone Pulver, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Rudel's book is an impressive synthesis of literature and ideas about the human-environment. It is lucidly argued and highly readable throughout and would appeal to senior undergraduates, graduates, and established scholars alike. The book would serve well as a core or companion text in courses on general environmental studies and environmental social science."
- Bradley B. Walters, Mount Allison University




1. Introduction
2. Meta-narratives of environmental reform
3. Globalization, tight coupling, and cascading events
4. Partitioning resources, preserving resources
5. Advantaging offspring, limiting offspring
6. Choosing foods, saving soils
7. Removing rubbish, recovering resources, and creating inequalities
8. Saving money, conserving energy
9. Focusing events, altruistic environmentalism, and the environmental movement
10. A sustainable development state
11. Conclusion: defensive environmentalists, sustainable development states, and global reform


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Thomas K. Rudel is professor in the departments of Human Ecology and Sociology at Rutgers University. He is the author of Tropical Forests: Regional Patterns of Destruction and Regeneration in the Late Twentieth Century (2005), which won the 2008 Outstanding Publication Award from the Environment and Technology section of the American Sociological Association, as well as Tropical Deforestation: Small Farmers and Land Clearing in the Ecuadorian Amazon (1993) and Situations and Strategies in American Land Use Planning (Cambridge University Press, 1989). Dr Rudel has won the 1995 Distinguished Contribution to Environmental Society Award and the 2009 Merit Award from the Natural Resources Research Group of the Rural Sociological Society for his research.

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