A Theory of Post-Ecologist Politics

Ingolfur Blühdorn

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22 Citations (SciVal)


The environmental movement has traditionally been interpreted as the vanguard of a new social, political and economic order which is to replace the ecologically unsustainable development practised in industrialised countries. The ideology of ecologism was expected to sign-post society's path of self-reformation. Social theory and its young sub-discipline of environmental sociology have developed a number of models for the assumed ecologisation of society. But whilst the latter never seemed to materialise, the former remained subject to the criticism of not being 'well suited to the elaboration or discussion of this kind of political problem'.1 Contrary to its efforts so far, the most valuable contribution of social theory to the ecological debate might be to demonstrate that processes of modernisation have rendered ecologism itself an outdated ideology, and the ecologisation of society a conceptual bubble. Inspired by Niklas Luhmann's systems theory, and based on a constructionist reinterpretation of environmental concern, the theory of post-ecologist politics argues that ecologism and the environmental movement have to be seen as a rearguard battle defending a world-view that is irretrievably lost. The theory provides a conceptual framework for the analysis of contemporary eco-politics and exposes serious weaknesses in much of contemporary ecological thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-147
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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