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Re. new publication on social networks and participation in an environmental movement. Apologies for cross-postings.

Details for interested readers below.

Joanna Robinson and I have published a new article entitled: “Collective action to save the ancient temperate rainforest: social networks and environmental activism in Clayoquot Sound”, published in Ecology and Society.

It is open access. You can read it online at:

You can also download a pdf of the article from the above link (which may be easier to read).

You can browse the entire special issue on “Networking the Environment: Social Network Analysis in Environmental Management and Local Ecological Knowledge Studies” at:

The article abstract:

In 1993 over 850 people were arrested for engaging in civil disobedience to prevent the clear-cut logging of pristine ancient temperate rainforests in Clayoquot Sound, Canada. This was the largest incident of this type in Canadian history, and has arguably been Canada’s most visible mobilization over a specific environmental issue. This study examines the factors that explain the ongoing participation of individuals in the environmental movement (more broadly, beyond participation in civil disobedience) to protect Clayoquot Sound during the period following the 1993 protest. We focus on the roles of interpersonal social networks and movement identification, and compare their statistical effects with the effects of values and attitudes on the level of participation of individuals in the movement. We compare survey data from members of Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS), a key environmental organization in this protest, with data collected from several surveys of the general public, and also from members of a local countermovement group (a proforest industry group that mobilized against the environmental movement). Although values and attitudes statistically differentiate members of FOCS from the other groups, these variables do not statistically explain ongoing differential participation in the movement amongst FOCS members. Rather, individual level of participation in this environmental movement is best explained by ego-network centrality (the pattern of ties each respondent has to contacts in the movement), as measured by the number of ties FOCS members have to others in a range of environmental organizations, and by their level of identification with the movement. Implications of this research for more recent mobilizations, such as against oil pipelines, are discussed, as are avenues for future research.

A few comments:

I am pleased about the article for several reasons, amongst others, it involved quite a lot of research, and I have been hoping to write this up and get it out for some while. Here are a few contextual comments for interested readers.

From the perspective of the social movements literature, there are a few things that I think are interesting. One, is that this is a relatively unique study that has identical data on a social movement, a counter movement, and two samples of the general public. And indeed the findings reflect what we would expect theoretically, quite nicely. These comparisons enable us -- to some degree – to deal with the problem of sampling on the dependent variable. Also, the main findings are quite robust statistically.

Also, this is an important case – arguably one of the most important cases pertaining to the environmental movement in Canada, which in turn is one of the most high profile movements in Canada.

 Like all studies, there are some limitations – but hopefully there are also some things people will find of interest.


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