University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Abstract: Climate change has become an all-encompassing problem as CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere sets the pace of temperature increases in our rapidly warming world. In attempting to make society ‘green,’ environmental movements have pursued different strategies through different political constellations. Shedding light on the movement’s ability to influence, I analyze the Danish environmental movement’s organizational configuration. Realizing the transformation of Danish environmentalism, I argue, we must examine past developments through field theory. As such, the movement is situated in a field of green transition politics. The field is a delineated area of political organizations interacting with one another, guided by similar interests in influencing how society ‘deals’ with green transition. I construct a dataset by interviewing activists, environment advocates, advisors, and state officials to gain a systematic record of change and a/the substantiated shift in the logic that has dominated the politics and organization of green transition. Drawing on archival data and secondary sources, I treat the contextual interview information as threads in weaving the social history of the field’s development. Reflexively, I discuss the analytical limitations and practical advantages of applying field theory to understand the thesis conduct of inquiry. My historical analysis shows how transition policies developed from being a matter of ‘greening’ through technological advances into becoming a policy area where the popular backing to facilitate green conversion and the conditions for policy implementation became the presupposition for transition. The study demonstrates three junctures of the field’s development, centralized around how the movement arranged its conduct according to its surroundings. First, the field’s dominating activities were those of technologically advancing Danish businesses, which were figureheads of green technology. Therefore, ‘transgressive’ ideas (e.g., societal conversion) of green politics were marginalized. In effect, the movement’s organizations jockeying for positions had to assume the functions as climate experts to gain a foothold. Second, when climate change policy became the dominant political agenda of green transition, a new set of actors joined the struggle to shape the contours of green transition policies. Third, the movement gained momentum in 2019 due to new organizational forms and developing new intermediate narratives of climate justice that resonated with many stakeholders in the field. In the end, I discuss what the current struggle of the field might bring in the future. To sustain recent popular support for a green transition, the analysis highlight the expansion of new organizational forms as pivotal in organizing.

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