Voices of young environmentalists : a generational perspective on environmentalism
Robinson, Peter Price
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SubjectEnvironmentalism; Environmentalists; Generations; Millennials; Phenomenology; Social Movements
Modern environmentalism, a conceptual lens through which to view the human relationship with the natural world, has deep roots in the period of social movement building that swept Western nations during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Over the past half century it has evolved to include new perspectives and face new environmental challenges. More recently, it has been less effective in tackling significant global environmental problems. Fifty years on, a younger generation of environmentalists is now addressing contemporary environmental issues, and developing its own interpretation of how environmentalism can be a force for social change. Through a phenomenological study of 20 young adults from British Columbia who care about the environment, the research focuses on how the group views modern environmentalism. The findings indicate that the participants believe environmentalism is in transition, and they are optimistic about their role in the changes that are under way. The emerging interpretation retains strong continuity with the past, but notably emphasizes people, a deeply personal view of how one lives a sustainable life, a new localism, a focus on community organizing grounded in social media, and a hopeful narrative predicated on solutions. The results suggest that with the entry of a new generation of environmentalists, environmentalism will continue to evolve as a durable and relevant worldview.
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