Recycling Behavior as a Gateway to Environmental Movement Participation: Ideational Participation and Recruitment into Environmental Movement Organizations

Open Access
Tripp, Winston B
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • John David Mccarthy, Thesis Advisor
  • social movements
  • recycling
  • environmental movement
  • gateway participation
  • environmental movement organizations
Social movement scholars have argued that an individual’s participation in social movement organizations (SMOs) sometimes occurs through a gateway of prior involvement in lower intensity types of participation, such as signing petitions and donating money to an SMO. Scholars who study recycling behavior have hypothesized the existence of a relationship between an individual’s participation in environmental movement organizations (EMOs) and his or her participation in recycling programs, although they disagree about which causes which. In this analysis, I connect both of these literatures by arguing that recycling forms an initial step in the process of membership in an EMO, leading first to low-intensity participation and finally to high-intensity organizational membership, channeling participation through a funnel-shaped process. In this analysis, I develop a series of logistic regression models using data from the 2000 General Social Survey to evaluate the plausibility of the process I hypothesize. I find that recycling positively affects low-intensity participation, which in turn increases the likelihood of EMO membership, supporting the funnel hypothesis. I also find that environmental ideology has a significant effect on all of the participation variables, positively influencing participation at each stage of the process.