The Role of Engos in Canadian Climate Politics: Comparing Policy Network Actors' Perceptions with Insights from Sociological Theories

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mark STODDART, Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NF, Canada
David TINDALL, University of British Columbia, Canada
What is the role of Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) in climate change policy debates? Based on a qualitative analysis of 73 interviews from a representative sample of policy actors in Canada, we examine the multiple roles that ENGOs are perceived to be playing within climate politics. We compare perceptions about the role of ENGOs held by climate policy actors with descriptions of the role of environmental organizations contained within the Treadmill of Production (TOP), Ecological Modernization (EM), Policy Networks (PN), and Resource Mobilization/Political Process Theory perspectives. The Treadmill of Production perspective takes a relatively pessimistic view of the prospects for sustainability in capitalist societies, but sees ENGOs potentially playing an important role – through protest and other tactics -- in pressuring government to take ecological sustainability into account. By contrast, Ecological Modernization theory takes a more optimistic view of these relationships, and sees ENGOs as playing a more cooperative and collaborative role vis a vis government and the private sector, and sees “greening” as a dominant trend arising from these relations. The Policy Networks perspective argues that the policy positions taken by particular actors is correlated with the positions taken by the network alters they are tied to through relationships of communication and collaboration. Resource Mobilization uses the metaphor of the market to understand the roles that different social movement organizations (SMOs) play within a social movement sector, and examines how organizations specialize within this context. Relatedly, Political Process theory examine how SMOs create and respond to political opportunities. Narratives about the role of environmental movements move across the boundaries between these perspectives, prompting us to rethink our theoretical understanding of the role of environmental movements within climate politics.