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The Effectiveness of Environmental Civil Society Organizations: An Integrated Analysis of Organizational Characteristics and Contextual Factors

Abstract

A push to reverse unsustainable trends has come from environmental civil society, but its track record is somewhat inconsistent. Why are some environmental organizations able to enhance the environmental cause, while others fail to create a substantial impact in the move toward environmental sustainability? This paper considers related but disparate clusters of literature and identifies factors that have an impact on the effectiveness of civil society. It also addresses the ambiguity that is attached to civil society—a concept with considerable historical baggage and contextual differentiation. Given that each conceptualization of civil society has its own body of literature and that these do not necessarily speak to each other, we propose an analytical framework that integrates a variety of dimensions relevant to the analysis of environmental civil society organizations (CSOs): the degree of institutionalization, the mode of interaction with the state, sources of funding, the locus of mobilization, the choice of issue(s), and the degree of politicization. Using these organizational characteristics, our framework further integrates contextual factors, constructing a multidimensional space where there are opportunities and constraints for environmental CSOs. This framework allows us to examine diverse paths shaped by context-dependent strategic choices of environmental CSOs which may either limit or enhance their capacity to make an impact. These strategic choices are tracked by selecting entry points inspired by fieldwork conducted in Turkey—specifically, institutionalization, the choice of issue(s), and politicization.

Résumé

La société civile environnementale exerce des pressions pour renverser les tendances non durables, mais ses résultats sont quelque peu incohérents. Pourquoi certains organismes environnementaux peuvent-ils renforcer la cause écologique, tandis que d’autres n’ont aucune incidence d’importance sur la durabilité de l’environnement? Le présent article examine des groupes connexes, quoique variés, de documents et détermine les facteurs qui ont une incidence sur le rendement de la société civile. Il traite aussi de l’ambiguïté associée à celle-ci; un concept accompagné d’un bagage historique et d’une différenciation contextuelle considérables. Étant donné que chaque conceptualisation de la société civile est attachée à ses propres documents de référence et que ces derniers n’interagissent pas nécessairement, nous proposons un cadre de travail analytique qui intègre une variété de dimensions pertinentes à l’analyse d’organismes de la société civile environnementale : leur degré d’institutionnalisation, leur mode d’interaction avec l’État, leurs sources de financement, leurs lieux d’intervention, leur choix du ou des enjeux et leur niveau de politisation. En plus de ces caractéristiques organisationnelles, notre cadre intègre aussi des facteurs contextuels de façon à créer un espace multidimensionnel où lesdits organismes font face à des opportunités et à des contraintes. Ce cadre de travail nous permet d’examiner diverses voies définies par les choix stratégiques contextuels des organismes de la société civile environnementale, lesquels pourraient restreindre ou rehausser leur influence. Ces choix stratégiques sont étudiés en sélectionnant des points d’entrée inspirés de travaux réalisés en Turquie, précisément l’institutionnalisation, le choix du ou des enjeux et la politisation.

Zusammenfassung

Die ökologische Bürgergesellschaft hat Anstrengungen unternommen, um unnachhaltige Trends umzukehren; doch die Erfolgsbilanz ist ein wenig unbeständig. Warum sind einige Umweltorganisationen in der Lage, Umweltbelange zu fördern, während andere keinen wesentlichen Einfluss auf die Bewegung in Richtung ökologische Nachhaltigkeit nehmen? Dieser Beitrag betrachtet verbundene, aber ungleiche Literatursammlungen und ermittelt die Faktoren, die sich auf die Effektivität der Bürgergesellschaft auswirken. Zudem wird die Ambiguität im Zusammenhang mit der Bürgergesellschaft angesprochen - ein Konzept mit beträchtlichen historischen Lasten und kontextueller Differenzierung. Angesichts der Tatsache, dass jede Konzeptualisierung der Bürgergesellschaft über ihre eigene Literatur verfügt, die nicht notwendigerweise auf andere Literatursammlungen eingeht, schlagen wir ein analytisches Rahmenwerk vor, dass eine Reihe von Dimensionen integriert, die für die Analyse von ökologischen Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen relevant sind: der Grad an Institutionalisierung, der Interaktionsmodus mit dem Staat, die Finanzierungsquellen, der Mobilisierungslokus, die behandelten Themenbereiche und der Politisierungsgrad. Unter Verwendung dieser organisatorischen Merkmale integriert unser Rahmenwerk darüber hinaus kontextuelle Faktoren, wodurch ein multidimensionaler Raum entsteht, der Möglichkeiten und Beschränkungen für ökologische Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen bereitstellt. Dieses Rahmenwerk ermöglicht es, verschiedene Wege zu untersuchen, die von kontextabhängigen strategischen Entscheidungen ökologischer Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen gestaltet werden und die ihre Kapazitäten zur Einflussnahme entweder beschränken oder ausbauen. Man verfolgt diese strategischen Entscheidungen durch eine Auswahl von Einstiegspunkten in Anlehnung an eine Feldforschung in der Türkei; dabei handelt es sich insbesondere um die Institutionalisierung, die behandelten Themenbereiche und die Politisierung.

Resumen

La sociedad civil medioambiental ha provocado un impulso para revertir las tendencias no sostenibles, pero su historial es algo inconsistente. ¿Por qué algunas organizaciones medioambientales pueden mejorar la causa medioambiental, mientras que otras fracasan a la hora de crear un impacto sustancial en el movimiento hacia la sostenibilidad medioambiental? El presente documento considera agrupaciones relacionadas pero dispares de material publicado e identifica factores que tienen impacto sobre la efectividad de la sociedad civil. Aborda también la ambigüedad vinculada a la sociedad civil - un concepto con un bagaje histórico considerable y diferenciación contextual. Dado que cada conceptualización de la sociedad civil tiene su propio conjunto de publicaciones y que éstas no se hablan necesariamente, proponemos un marco analítico que integre una variedad de dimensiones pertinentes para el análisis de las organizaciones medioambientales de la sociedad civil (CSO, por su siglas en inglés): el grado de institucionalización, el modo de interacción con el estado, las fuentes de financiación, el lugar de movilización, la elección de tema(s) y el grado de politización. Utilizando estas características organizativas, nuestro marco integra también factores contextuales, construyendo un espacio multidimensional en el que hay oportunidades y restricciones para las CSO medioambientales. Este marco nos permite examinar diversas vías formadas por las elecciones estratégicas dependientes del contexto de las CSO medioambientales que pueden limitar o aumentar su capacidad para crear impacto. Estas elecciones estratégicas son rastreadas seleccionando puntos de entrada inspirados por el trabajo de campo realizado en Turquía - especialmente, la institucionalización, la elección de tema(s) y la politización.

摘要

改变不可持续趋势的推动力来自环境民间团体,但其带来的影响各不相同。为何一些环境组织能够增强环境因素,而其他组织则无法实质影响环境可持续性的向前发展?本文考虑了相关,但归属不同类别的文献,并确定了对民间团体的有效性带来影响的因素。这还针对民间团体存在的模糊性—存在极大历史包袱和背景差异的概念。考虑到民间团体的每个概念化都有自己的文献库,同时这些文献不一定彼此对应,因此我们建议使用分析框架,集成各种环境民间团体组织 (CSO) 的分析相关的维度:制度化程度,与国家的互动模式,资金来源,活动所在地,问题选择和政治化程度。使用这些组织特点,我们的框架进一步集成背景因素,构建为环境CSO带来机会和限制的多维度空间。本框架让我们能够检查环境CSO的背景相关战略性选择塑造的不同路径,这还可能限制或增强其作出影响的能力。通过选择由土耳其的现场调查得出的切入点,对这些战略性选择进行了跟踪—尤其是,制度化、问题选择和政治化。

要約

持続不可能な傾向を逆転させる活動は、環境市民社会から来ているが、その実績はやや一貫性がない。環境の持続可能性に向けて大きな影響を与えられない団体がある一方、環境団体によっては環境の要因を強化できるのはなぜだろうか。本論文では、異なる文献を考察して、市民社会の有効性に影響を与える要因を識別する。それはまた歴史的な背景を持つ概念として市民社会に関連付けられているあいまいさを指摘している。市民社会の各概念が文献において独自の組織を持ち、必ずしも互いに論じられることがないため、 制度化の段階、国の相互作用の状態、資金源、可動化、問題の選択、政治の局面といったさまざまな領域を統合して、環境の市民社会の組織(CSO)の解析に関連する分析的な枠組みを提案する。さらに枠組みとしては、これらの組織の特性を用いて、環境の市民社会の制約と機会を持つ多次元空間を構築して、文脈的要因を統合する。この枠組みでは、CSOが可能性を制限または強化して影響を与えることによって、環境市民社会におけるコンテキスト依存型の戦略的な選択を形成して多様な方向から調査することができる。これらの戦略的な選択では、トルコで実施したフィールドワークで触発されたエントリー・ポイント、具体的には制度化、問題の選択、政治問題化を選択して追跡する。

ملخص

لقد حان الوقت للضغط لعكس الإتجاهات التي لا يمكن أن تستمر من المجتمع المدني البيئي، لكن سجلها غير متناسق بعض الشيء. لماذا بعض المنظمات البيئية قادرة على تعزيز قضية البيئة، في حين فشل الآخرين لخلق تأثير كبير في التحرك نحو الإستدامة البيئية؟ هذا البحث يدرس مجموعات ذات صلة من الأدب ولكن متباينة ويحدد العوامل التي لها تأثير على فعالية المجتمع المدني. كما يتناول الغموض التي يتم تركيبه للمجتمع المدني - مفهوم به نظريات تاريخية كبيرة وتمايز سياقي. بالنظر إلى أن كل مفهوم للمجتمع المدني له هيئة خاصة به من الأدب وأنهم لا يتكلمون بالضرورة مع بعضهم البعض، فإننا نقترح إطار تحليلي يجمع بين مجموعة متنوعة من الأبعاد ذات الصلة لتحليل منظمات المجتمع المدني البيئية CSOs)): درجة لإضفاء الطابع المؤسسي، طريقة التفاعل مع الدولة، مصادر التمويل، مكان التعبئة، وإختيار موضوع (مواضيع)، ودرجة التسييس. بإستخدام هذه الخصائص التنظيمية ، إطارنا يدمج مزيد من العوامل السياقية، يبني فضاء متعدد الأبعاد حيث توجد فرص وقيود لمنظمات المجتمع المدني البيئية (CSOs). يسمح هذا الإطار لنا لدراسة مسارات متنوعة تتشكل من الخيارات الإستراتيجية التي تعتمد على سياق منظمات المجتمع المدني CSOs)) البيئية التي قد تحد أو تقوم بتعزيز قدرتها على أن يكون لها تأثير. يتم تتبع هذه الإختيارات الإستراتيجية عن طريق تحديد نقاط الدخول مستوحاة من الأعمال الميدانية التي أجريت في تركيا على وجه التحديد، المؤسسات، تنويع إختياراتك في مشكلة (مشاكل)، والتسييس.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. Exceptions exist. See, e.g., Smith et al. (1997).

  2. The fieldwork that inspired and informed this paper was carried out from 2009 to 2011 and consisted of in-depth interviews with environmental CSO directors and staff, activists, relevant state bureaucrats and parliamentarians, funders, international organizations, and other experts. It focused on four leading national environmental organizations: Greenpeace Mediterranean, the Doğa Association, the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation, and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA), and WWF-Turkey.

  3. To cite a more concrete example, in Spain, for instance, increased institutionalization and professionalism have allowed major environmental groups to consolidate their political positions and operations effectively across the country, thanks to the possibility of setting up links and connections among local groups and branch offices (O’Brien 2009).

  4. Apart from membership fees and subscriptions, organizations may also raise funds through fundraising campaigns from the general public (rather than targeting a small but interested and devoted groups of individuals).

  5. NIMBYism refers to local level contentions, where residents oppose the targeted site of, for instance, an infrastructural or energy project in the vicinity of their habitat. While some local mobilizations have succumbed to parochialism, narrow interests, and a disregard for the general benefit to the broader public (Van der Horst 2007; Wolsink 2006)—characteristics generally associated with NIMBYism—studies have revealed that more complex dynamics are involved in local oppositions, leading scholars to question the accuracy of the NIMBY label. NIMBY has become a stigma used by proponents of large-scale projects with severe environmental costs to discredit all local environmental movements (Burningham 2000; Della Porta and Piazza 2008; Garavan 2007; Wolsink 2006).

  6. For instance, the campaigns against the construction of a high-speed railway in Val di Susa and a bridge on the Messina Strait in Italy (Della Porta and Piazza 2008) were able to attach themselves to a broader framework of ecological critique, expressed in their evaluation of consumption, current models of development, and value of the environment. Similarly, the campaign against the construction of a natural gas refinery in North Mayo in Ireland articulated the desire to conserve local life and human health (Garavan 2008).

  7. One example would be conservation in a setting where energy issues fall within the redlines of the state. It should also be noted that this distinction is increasingly becoming more apparent than real—see Paker et al. (2013) for further discussion.

  8. However, it should also be noted that the 1990s saw the emergence of the Bergama movement, the first and one of the most influential environmental movements in Turkey that mobilized against a transnational gold mining company and was in direct conflict with the state which endorsed the mine (Arsel 2005).

  9. See Paker et al. (2013) for a comprehensive discussion.

  10. In the case of the so-called “mega projects” of the incumbent government, however, where the main funding bank has no direct link to the organization, WWF-Turkey was able to stand up and critically engage with the government.

  11. The law on Pasture Land (Law No. 4342, 1998) and the law on Land Protection and Use (Law No. 5403, 2005). For a discussion, see Paker et al. (2013).

  12. There are obviously numerous other cases of local environmental resistance against issues such as the construction of nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, unsustainable urban renewal plans, and mega infrastructure projects.

  13. To give a few examples, in the case of Gerze, the thermal power plant project was halted (Arsel et al. 2015). In the case of Bergama, although the mine continued its operations, the extraction technology was upgraded. Also, the Bergama movement has had considerable impact as a source of inspiration for later environmental disputes (Arsel 2005; Uncu 2012).

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Barış Gençer Baykan for his research assistance during the fieldwork that informs the analytical framework proposed in the article. This research was funded by a national Grant from TUBITAK, Project Number 108K383. We also thank Ege Zeytun and Ceren Nur Pekdemir who provided research assistance and Peggy Alptekin for English editing. The usual disclaimer applies.

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Kadirbeyoğlu, Z., Adaman, F., Özkaynak, B. et al. The Effectiveness of Environmental Civil Society Organizations: An Integrated Analysis of Organizational Characteristics and Contextual Factors. Voluntas 28, 1717–1741 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-017-9848-y

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Keywords

  • Environmental organizations
  • Civil society
  • Depoliticization
  • Institutionalization
  • Choice of issue
  • Turkey