Patterns of differentiation

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When nuclear energy was removed from many national political agendas in the early 1980s, there was a wide range of expertise that had previously not existed. In many European countries, as well as in North America and even some of the larger developing countries, there were university departments and research institutes, as well as substantial state bureaucracies and a wide range of "non-governmental" organizations, which had an institutional interest in environmental and energy issues.

There was also an ideological shift, a veritable counter-revolution in many of the leading industrial nations. Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States represented the most visible manifestations of a neo-liberal corporate offensive which opposed much of the substantive program of environmentalism and other "new social movements". In the world of science, technology, and the environment, neo-liberalism led to a change from a social emphasis or policy agenda to a more explicitly economic and commercial orientation. A language of deregulation and strategic research - and new programs that stressed the importance of university-industry collaboration and academic entrepre-neurship - came to replace the notions of societal relevance and technology assessment. At the same time, many of the sectorial programs that had been established in the 1970s were curtailed and many of the alternative centers and activities that had flourished were disbanded, especially in Britain and the United States, where the ideological shift was particularly strong (Elzinga and Jamison 1995). The broad public space that environmentalists had carved out was circumscribed and constrained, and broader ambitions to produce both an alternative knowledge and an alternative approach to politics were significantly reduced in scope. What began to emerge instead was a new kind of professional environmental-ism, in business and government, as well as in the environmental movement itself, as the neo-liberal ideology spread into the broader society.

On the one hand, there developed in many parts of the world a range of more explicitly commercial activities, such as consulting firms in energy conservation and environmental impact assessment, as well as companies that specialized in new market "niches" such as wind and solar energy, waste recycling and minimization, ecological architecture and design. Many larger companies also began to establish environmental departments in order to develop more pro-active or "preventive" strategies for pollution control. In the United States, in particular, pollution prevention grew into an influential corporate slogan in the 1980s, as the experiments at Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) indicated that efforts to eliminate pollution at its source could be both effective and profitable (Weale 1992).

A second kind of professionalization that served to alter the character of the environmental movement was the emergence of think-tanks, which were independent of both the private and the public sectors, and which were run on a not-for-profit basis. The Washington-based World Resources Institute, created by one of former President Carter's leading environmental advisors, Gustav Speth, and the Worldwatch Institute established by Lester Brown, an expert in development issues, were particularly influential. In India, Anil Agarwal established the Centre for Science and Environment, primarily as an environmental news agency, which has grown over the years into an influential contributor to international environmental deliberations. These new operations all combined research with investigative journalism, and provided information to the mass media as well as to environmental organizations. Their staff members combined an expertise in specific environmental issues with skills in publishing and communication, and they quickly became significant players in both national and international environmental politics. Because of their proven competence they were able to influence policy agendas more effectively than the less professional activist organizations.

The emergence of these think-tanks was accompanied by the spread of a dramatically innovative and professional environmental activism, spearheaded by Greenpeace and by the reemergence, in many countries, of the older conservation societies. Greenpeace, of course, was a pioneer in a kind of "high-tech environmentalism," making use of computers and sophisticated communications techniques in order to raise awareness about a few highly charged topics: nuclear fallout, seal- and whale-hunting, and oil pollution. As the energy issue lost its media interest, and the ideological counter-offensive of Thatcher and Reagan pushed environmentalists on to the defensive, Greenpeace signaled the coming of a more "radical" and more politically strategic kind of activism (Eyerman and Jamison

1989). The organizational ambition was to carry out a limited number of campaigns that were internationally coordinated and which combined direct, dramatic, forms of action with highly focused information and lobbying efforts.

Finally, the early 1980s witnessed the widespread entrance of envi-ronmentalism into the parliamentary arena as green parties, under the inspiration of the West German GrĂ¼nen, were formed across Europe and North America (as well as in several Asian countries). In most countries the formation of green parties was controversial, and was perhaps the main factor that led to splits and conflicts within most national environmental movements. Many were the activists who contended that movements could not operate as formal political parties, and that the establishment of green parties would be counter-productive. In countries like Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands the formation of green parties was opposed by many of the leading activists from the antinuclear movement, many of whom continued to work within the traditional parties as well as within movement organizations (Jamison et al.

By the mid-1980s the environmental movement had thus lost whatever coherence it might once have had. It was divided into distinct branches, or wings, and in most places the branches themselves were subdivided along sectorial lines. In addition to professionalization, there was a kind of specialization process that affected the particular issues that each organization dealt with. This had the consequence of producing projector topic-specific knowledge in both the think-tanks and the activist organizations. This was one of the factors that made it difficult for environmental organizations to continue to interact with university scientists, whose training was usually less specialized than that of sector activists.

But many academics, under the pressure of liberalization and new professional regimes in the universities, left the "movement" for other reasons at this time. However, links were developed among, for example, academic experts in renewable energy and energy conservation and the commercial firms that emerged out of the struggle against nuclear energy. And in the name of university-industry collaboration environmental concern was brought into university management and engineering departments where it had previously not been significant. It was through such collaborations that many of the innovations in renewable energy and industrial ecology, which would become important in the 1990s, would be generated.

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