Thesis ID: CBB001561545

The Rebirth of Environmentalism: Grassroots Activism and the New Conservation Movement, 1989--2004 (2007)


Bevington, Douglas (Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz
Szasz, Andrew

Publication Date: 2007
Edition Details: Advisor: Szasz, Andrew
Physical Details: 465 pp.
Language: English

In this dissertation, I examine the impact of grassroots biodiversity groups on U.S. environmental protection from 1989 though 2004. These groups proliferated in the late 1980s and 1990s with a new approach to forest and wildlife protection distinct from the two dominant approaches represented by the moderate national environmental organizations (such as the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, and Environmental Defense Fund) and the radical direct action groups (such as Earth First!). While the grassroots biodiversity groups shared Earth First!'s radical outlook, unlike Earth First!, these were small formal organizations that used only lawful tactics, particularly litigation. Unlike the national environmental organizations which relied on an insider strategy for social change based on privileged access to politicians, the grassroots groups largely worked outside of Washington DC and followed an outsider strategy. Groups using an outsider strategy were less constrained from taking contentious actions than insider organizations because they were not concerned about losing political access. Thus, the grassroots biodiversity groups were able to file lawsuits against the federal government for its failure to enforce its environmental laws in cases which the national environmental organizations avoided as too controversial. As a result, these new groups had an unprecedented impact on federal environmental policy implementation in the 1990s and 2000s in terms of increased endangered species protection and reduced logging levels. In this dissertation, I investigate how small grassroots biodiversity groups were able to have such a large impact. I focus particularly on examining these groups in relation to their strategy, tactics, organization, funding, movement culture, and external political and economic conditions. I consider how these factors both enabled and constrained the groups. I also explore the relationship between the grassroots groups and the dominant national environmental organizations. My project centers around case studies of three grassroots biodiversity campaigns between 1989 and 2004: the Headwaters Forest campaign to protect redwood trees on private lands in California; the zero cut campaign to end commercial logging on national forests; and the grassroots endangered species litigation campaign, with a focus on the role of the Center for Biological Diversity.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 68/05 (2007). Pub. no. AAT 3265700.

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Authors & Contributors
Turner, James Morton
Jundt, Thomas
Voskuhl, Adelheid Clara
Alvarez, Luis
Serlin, David
Kwak, Nancy
Environmental History
Journal of American History
Social Studies of Science
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal of American Culture
MIT Press
Tufts University Press
University of Pittsburgh Press
University of Washington Press
Oxford University Press
Science and politics
Environmental protection
Political activists and activism
Public policy
Conservation of natural resources
Sagan, Carl
Truman, Harry S.
Commoner, Barry
Goldwater, Barry
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
19th century
United States
European Union
Pennsylvania (U.S.)
California (U.S.)
United Nations

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