Organizations and Networks in Europe and the USA
Edited by C. S.A. (Kris) van Koppen and William T. Markham
Chapter 10: The ‘Nature’ of Environmentalism: Nature Protection in the USA
Angela G. Mertig INTRODUCTION The US environmental movement has been one of the most successful and enduring social movements of the twentieth century. Like most other social movements, the US environmental movement has arguably fallen short of achieving many of its stated goals (Brulle 2000); however, it has succeeded in building and maintaining a substantial organizational and public support base, and it has had a documented and signiﬁcant eﬀect on the legal, political, educational and cultural milieu of the USA (Mertig et al. 2002; Bosso 2005). Like environmental movements elsewhere, US environmentalism encompasses several distinguishable yet overlapping ideologies, each with characteristic goals. These ‘frames’ or ‘discourses’ (see, for example, Snow et al. 1986) represent the ideological glue which binds various sets of organizations, activists and public supporters together. One key frame within US environmentalism is that of ‘nature protection’, more commonly known in the USA as ‘preservation’. Preservationist-oriented organizations and activists focus much, if not all, of their time on setting aside protected areas (e.g. parks, forests, wilderness areas) and protecting wildlife and their habitats from human use. From the preservationist perspective, it is vital to protect wilderness and wildlife because nature is ‘an important component in supporting both the physical and spiritual life of humans’ (Brulle 2000, p. 98). Preservationism represents one of the earliest sources of collective action on behalf of the environment in US history, and it remains a vital component of the contemporary US environmental movement. Another important frame1 relevant to nature protection has...
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