In and Against the State: The Dynamics of Environmental Activism

  • Olivia HaslerEmail author
  • Reece Walters
  • Rob White


The emerging and changing roles of environmental activists pose interesting questions for criminological inquiry. On the one hand, environmental activism has become pivotal to the implementation, compliance and regulation of environmental policies. For example, the resources and technologies of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are increasingly employed by state agencies to help identify, monitor and prosecute environmental crime. In this sense, environmental activism has become a quasi-arm of the state in preventing environmental crime. On the other hand, environmental activists have been targeted by state legislatures and enforcement agencies as “eco-terrorists” and ideological warriors who impede trade, economic prosperity and the aspirations of private enterprise. As such, protecting the environment through protest has become an increasingly dangerous endeavor with harassment, persecution and death of activists occurring at the hands of both states and corporations. In these instances, environmental activists are perceived as a threat to the corporations and states that seek profit through the exploitation of natural resources. Thus, it can be argued that the relationship between those seeking to protect the environment and the state is paradoxical, involving both collaboration and coercion, and dynamism and danger. This article addresses the relationship between environmental activists and government. It examines three different dynamics between activists and states working to develop environmental policies, each with varying levels of trust and cooperation.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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