Individual Guilt or Collective Progressive Action? Challenging the Strategic Potential of Environmental Citizenship Theory
While structural approaches to sustainability have remained unable to muster wider political support, green political theory has for some time taken a voluntarist turn, arguing that deep changes in attitudes and behaviour are necessary to reduce the ecological debt of the rich countries. Within environmental citizenship theory it is believed that justice requires each individual to start living within his or her 'ecological space'. Firmly rooted in the pollution paradigm, environmental citizenship theory holds that the path to sustainability goes through a dramatic reduction in economic activity and international trade. Since such cuts in material welfare run counter to the preferences of many, doubts can be had about their political plausibility. More seriously, with a world population of more than seven billions, it is doubtful that even such harsh sacrifices would suffice to ensure environmental sustainability. This article challenges environmental citizenship theory by arguing that it is tied to a conception of sustainability which is both theoretically misleading and strategically unfortunate in a rapidly industrialising world. Instead of further individual guilt, there is an urgent need to define new collective progressive projects aimed at universal affluence and natural restoration. Fashionable as a sense of individual guilt may be, it fails to recognise the responsibility of the rich world to provide new technologies capable of securing global environmental sustainability.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Canas, Angela & Ferrao, Paulo & Conceicao, Pedro, 2003. "A new environmental Kuznets curve? Relationship between direct material input and income per capita: evidence from industrialised countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 217-229, September.
- Sverker C. Jagers & Simon Matti, 2010. "Ecological Citizens: Identifying Values and Beliefs that Support Individual Environmental Responsibility among Swedes," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1055-1079, April.
- Moran, Daniel D. & Wackernagel, Mathis & Kitzes, Justin A. & Goldfinger, Steven H. & Boutaud, Aurelien, 2008. "Measuring sustainable development -- Nation by nation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 470-474, January.
- Paul G. Harris, 2004. "'Getting Rich Is Glorious':Environmental Values in the People's Republic of China," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 13(2), pages 145-165, May.
- Catherine Butler, 2010. "Morality and Climate Change: Is Leaving your TV on Standby a Risky Behaviour?," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 19(2), pages 169-192, May.
- Jay Mandle, 2008. "Reconciling Development, Global Climate Change, and Politics," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 51(6), pages 81-90, November.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev21:ev2121. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andrew Johnson)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.