Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic
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Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic

The Environmental Movement in the Transition Process

Adam Fagan

Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic offers a radical perspective on the democratisation process, revealing the extent to which the consolidation of a politically efficacious and diverse civil society is far more complex than the earlier generation of commentators acknowledged. The environmental movement has not flourished under political democracy; its radical activists have been marginalized and targeted by the state, their ideologies and strategies compromised and their critical voice silenced. Yet the book concludes that whilst the mainstream environmental movement has become institutionalised and appears incapable of representing community interests, the environmental issue retains the capacity to mobilise, this time against the neo-liberal agenda of the democratic government.
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Adam Fagan


This study of the Czech environmental movement endorses many of the conclusions reached by other studies of social movement development in CEE (Flam, 2001). In terms of general trends there is substantial evidence to confirm the view that social movement organisations in CEE are primarily concerned with professionalism, gaining access and influence at elite level, and disinclined to mobilise and enlist significant numbers of supporters However, this research also mounts a challenge to such perceptions of low levels of mobilisation, a passive and conservative civil society reluctant to engage with activism, and the cooption of EMOs within the hegemonic discourse of ecological modernisation. Had the study been concluded in the late 1990s, it would have endorsed entirely the view that mobilization and protest were largely absent, having reached their peak in the early 1990s during the era of movement-based politics and the heyday of dissident politicians. Until very recently, the quest for institutionalisation and for partnership within the policy process seemed to be the main focus of EMO activity. It was almost impossible to find support amongst EMOs for radical agendas and non-violent direct action. As illustrated in Chapter 4, the main EMOs all sought greater elite access and a process of institutionalisation had certainly taken place during the second half of the 1990s. From the perspective of 2003, nearly a generation since the collapse of communism in 1989, it would be a misrepresentation to conclude that the Czech environmental movement is entirely in transit towards institutionalisation and increased professionalism,...

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