The Politics of Networking in the Grassroots Environmental Justice Movement
The central claim of this work is that the diverse and fast-growing environmental justice movement in the United States embodies the newly emerging concepts and practices of critical pluralism, so this chapter turns to the environmental movement for examples of this in practice. Specifically, it looks at the new network structures and processes that have been adopted by grassroots environmental movements, which make connections, and create solidarity out of an understanding and respect for both differences and similarities, and work from a variety of places with a wide array of tactics. The chapter begins by exploring the value of difference (plurality) in the movement, and continues by examining the bases of the environmental justice movement in a number of pre-existing social and political networks, looking at how these networks link issues and establish alliances among diverse groups, how they form in order to deal with environmental issues of varying dimensions, and how they are structured organizationally. The author also examines some of the reasons why this form of organizing is a tactical strength, as it confronts (mirrors and maps) itself onto changing practices in capital movement and political oversight. Finally, in an initial attempt to evaluate the network form, some of the difficulties in, and criticisms of, networking as a social-movement strategy are explored.
Keywords: critical pluralism, criticisms, difference, environmental justice, environmental movement, grassroots environmental movements, network structures, networking, similarity, solidarity, tactical strength, United States
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