Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden
Chapter 6: Ecological citizenship
Perhaps more than any other social movement, environmentalism has succeeded in changing the way citizenship is theorized. Until the 1960s few political scientists acknowledged the relevance of the natural environment. Today most contemporary texts on citizenship cite transboundary environmental problems like toxic pollution and climate change as reasons for why traditional liberal and nation-state–based understandings of citizenship have become outdated. Environmental issues are increasingly placed at the centre of arguments for conceiving a post-liberal citizenship on a global scale and for the development of institutions of world governance. The concept of ‘ecological citizenship’ has become a key theme in green political thought, as growing numbers of theorists argue that an ‘ecological democracy’ is a better means of averting the environmental crisis than the authoritarian strategies favoured by earlier theorists. There is now a sizable body of ‘green’ literature on citizenship that stands firm on the point that the only political arrangement that will work in conditions of radical uncertainty – such as the ecological crisis – is a democratic one where the voices of as many citizens as possible participate in public debate, and where citizens accept responsibility for improving human–nature relationships. However, the definition and contours of the concept of ecological citizenship remain deeply contested within the discipline.
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