ENVIRONMENTALISM IN THE UNITED STATES: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE MOVEMENT’S NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE, 1955-1998

Open Access
Author:
Johnson, Erik W
Graduate Program:
Sociology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
March 14, 2005
Committee Members:
  • John David Mccarthy, Committee Chair
  • David P Baker, Committee Member
  • Roger Kent Finke, Committee Member
  • Lee Ann Banaszak, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • social movements
  • environmental movement
  • organizations
  • political sociology
Abstract:
The focus of this project is explaining the mobilization of the non-profit environmental sector and the impact of this mobilization on the federal policy making process between 1955 and 1998. We test alternative explanations for the emergence of environmentalism in America using negative binomial regression techniques to analyze the date of establishment for 658 national EMOs. Results provide little support for either environmental degradation or value shift explanations for the mobilization of environmental concern, instead strongly supporting predictions made by organizational ecologists concerning founding rates in organizational populations generally. In examining the impact of mobilization across different stages within the policy making we focus on two distinct stages: agenda setting and the passage of laws. Results provide strong support for the notion that mobilization of the U.S. environmental movement increased representation of environmental issues on the Congressional legislative agenda. There is also evidence supporting the hypothesized positive relationship between mobilization and the incidence of environmental laws, though this relationship is considerably weaker and more tenuous. The effect of environmental movement mobilization remains unchanged even once we control for public opinion, which has no independent effect on either environmental agenda setting or the passage of laws.