The Role of Social Movements in Ecological Modernisation

Ecological modernisation has sparked a debate about the relevance of incorporating technological innovations and social movements in industry. It has been argued that new social movements, associated with recent forms of political activity are focusing on cultural struggles rather than on the institutionalized, classic social actions, embedded in cultural practices.

On the one hand, some have asserted that technological social movements are formed through the exchange of information, such as the development of technologies, information exchange and open conversation. This is different from the embedded current practices of the industry, where information tends to be restrictive. Moreover, another difference lays in the engagement with non-industrial organisations, such as cause groups and municipalities, which have the purpose of establishing and maintaining financial support for renewable materials.

On the other hand, there are debates sustaining that social movements come as an oppositional approach to technology. This school of thought sustains that in the current state of globalization and market-oriented policies, social movements have the potential to help politicize consumption and, at the same time, develop more industries and new markets.

For example, it has been proved in quantitative studies that a correlation between the number of installed capacity of wind power and environmental groups exists.Jänicke argued that the European Union has integrated ecological modernization concepts into their policies and practices, that go beyond traditional treatments and offer more comprehensive approaches which aim to achieve resource efficient innovation through environmental improvements.  Ecological modernization theorists believe that the development of technology can represent an opportunity to ameliorate the problems of the environment. However, environmental organizations remain relevant and should not be overlooked, as their support is essential for environmental reform and raising public pressure. What is more, environmental modernization articles appear to devalue the importance of the involvement of social movements in developing new technologies. Objectivist ecological modernization theories imply that environmental movements have only a limited role in ecological transformation, as opposed to conventional economic actors and capitalism. In spite of the fact that social movements might have a limited role in the development of ecological modernization, they should not be overlooked, as they bring momentum to the subject and actively participate in the process. Thus, social movements have a role both in mobilizing political support for renewable energy and in developing renewable energy.

In conclusion, social movements have had a crucial importance in the early development of renewable energy technology, mainly due to the initial unwillingness of the dominant energy incumbents to develop new technologies. As views have changed over the time and technologies have been developed, social movement groups have seen a shift in the actions carried out, but not in the purpose, which is innovation and maintaining or improving the standards of operation plans.










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