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Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate
Chapter 14: Environmental consciousness and behaviour: the greening of lifestyles
Karl-Werner Brand Since the 1980s, public concern in western industrial societies over ecological problems and technological risks has grown considerably. Throughout the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, ecological conflict and the debate on nuclear energy were marked by a degree of high polarization and a clash of two contradictory cultural patterns: ‘dominant social paradigm’ versus ‘new environmental paradigm’ (see Catton and Dunlap, 1978; Dunlap, 1980; Dunlap and Van Liere, 1984; Cotgrove, 1982; Fietkau et al., 1982). Today, nobody seriously doubts the urgency of ecological problems. Concerns for the environment have become more or less institutionalized in different fields of action: research and politics, economic management, product advertisement, education and, last but not least, private life. Even radical environmental lobbies have become accepted partners by politics and business. The ecological discourse has generated new perspectives on problems, new institutional forms of problem resolution and new standards of an ‘ecological correctness’. The institutionalization of ecological norms of behaviour is linked to various motives and interests. Nowadays, ‘ecological lifestyles’ have little in common with the ‘simple’, ‘close to nature’ life of long-haired, libertarian ecofreaks. The notion, ‘ecological’, has become technically and aesthetically sophisticated. Ecological orientations take visible shape in attractive, upper-middle-class houses decked out with with wood, glass, green material and the latest energy-saving technologies. High-tech is used for building wind energy and lowemission power plants, for the development of ‘integrated traffic systems’, or long-life, repairable and recyclable products. ‘Efficiency revolution’, ‘technical and intelligent’ operating systems, ‘life-cycle analysis’, ‘ecological material flow...
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