Introduction: Citizenship, the State and Ideology in a Critical, Pragmatic and Realist Lens

  • Andy Scerri


In some ways motivated by Andrew Dobson’s claim that ‘the form of citizens’ daily lives — their “participation” in the widest sense — is what shapes the contours of sustainability itself’,1 the key normative theories of green citizenship that emerged in the 1990s and 2000s seek to inform policy and practice by outlining the kinds of rights and/or duties that the political community and individuals should support. These normative theories elaborate different conceptions of ‘environmental’, ‘ecological’, ‘active’ or ‘critical sustainability’ citizenship. As in any debate over a concept, there exists some disagreement among the proponents of green citizenship about its most important aspects. This said, such disagreement is the product of collegial effort to gain clarity and build the robustness of the concept. Primarily, these differences centre on what is the best balance between ‘liberal’ rights to something from society and ‘civic-republican’ duties and responsibilities to society. As in general political theory, critics of the liberal position argue that it fails to make clear what citizens must contribute in order to benefit from the polity. Meanwhile, critics of the civic-republican view regard it as limited to describing obligations, without making clear how claims to the shared benefits of belonging to the polity should be apportioned. Green liberal perspectives are said to over-emphasize entitlements; conversely, civic-republican perspectives are criticized for expressing a kind of green-tinged ethico-moral authoritarianism.


Welfare State Social Movement Institutional Arrangement Normative Theory Political Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    A. Dobson, ‘Citizenship’, in Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge, ed. A. Dobson and R. Eckersley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    T. Hayward, ‘Ecological Citizenship: Justice, Rights and the Virtue of Resourcefulness’, Environmental Politics 15, no. 3 (2006): 441;Google Scholar
  3. A. Dobson, Citizenship and the Environment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    M. Wissenburg, Green Liberalism: The Free and the Green Society (London: UCL Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    M. Wissenburg, ‘Liberalism’, in Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge, ed. A. Dobson and R. Eckersley (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 31.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    D.R. Bell, ‘Liberal Environmental Citizenship’, Environmental Politics 14, no. 2 (2005): 183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 6.
    M. Arias-Maldonado, ‘The Democratisation of Sustainability: The Search for a Green Democratic Model’, Environmental Politics 9, no. 4 (2000): 56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 7.
    J. Barry, ‘Resistance Is Fertile: From Environmental to Sustainability Citizenship’, in Environmental Citizenship, ed. A. Dobson and D. Bell (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 23–5.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    See also, P. Petit, Civic Republicanism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997);Google Scholar
  10. J. Barry and K. Smith, ‘Civic Republicanism and Green Politics’, in Building a Citizen Society, ed. S. White and D. Leighton (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2008);Google Scholar
  11. R.C. Paehlke, Environmentalism and the Future of Progressive Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    T. Gabrielson, ‘Green Citizenship: A Review and Critique’, Citizenship Studies 12, no. 4 (2008): 430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 14.
    For an overview, see work by A. Biro, Denaturalizing Ecological Politics: Alienation from Nature from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School and Beyond (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005);Google Scholar
  14. J.M. Meyer, Political Nature: Environmentalism and the Interpretation of Western Thought (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001); V. Plumwood, ‘Nature, Self and Gender: Feminism, Environmental Philosophy and the Critique of Rationalism’, Hypatia 6, no. 1 (1991); —, ‘Inequality, Ecojustice and Ecological Rationality’, Ecotheology: Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 5, no. 6 (1999);Google Scholar
  15. R. Williams, Problems in Materialism and Culture (London: Verso Books, 1989);Google Scholar
  16. G. Lloyd, The Man of Reason: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ in Western Philosophy, ed. J. Ree, Ideas (London: Methuen, 1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    J.S. Dryzek and P. Dunleavy, Theories of the Democratic State (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 250;Google Scholar
  18. R.E. Goodin, Green Political Theory (Cambridge: Polity, 1992).Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    T. Gabrielson and K. Parady, ‘Corporeal Citizenship: Rethinking Green Citizenship through the Body’, Environmental Politics 19, no. 3 (2010): 374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 21.
    J. Barry, Rethinking Green Politics (London: Sage, 1999), 99.Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    A. Dobson, ‘Citizens, Citizenship and Governance for Sustainability’, in Governing Sustainability, ed. W.N. Adger and A. Jordan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 136.Google Scholar
  22. 26.
    A. Dobson and D. Hayes, ‘A Politics of Crisis: Low- Energy Cosmopolitanism’, OpenDemocracy (2008),; see also A. Dobson, ‘Book Review: The Politics of Climate Change’, Environmental Politics 19, no. 2 (2010): 311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 28.
    J. Barry, ‘Review: Denaturalizing Ecological Politics: Alienation from Nature from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School and Beyond by Andrew Biro’, Environmental Politics 17, no. 4 (2007): 689.Google Scholar
  24. 34.
    B. Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. C. Porter (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993 [1991]).Google Scholar
  25. 35.
    B. Latour, Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 37, 67, 87, 89.Google Scholar
  26. 36.
    I. Blühdorn, and I. Welsh, ‘Eco-Politics Beyond the Paradigm of Sustainability: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda’, Environmental Politics 16, no. 2 (2007): 193, italics in original.Google Scholar
  27. 37.
    For a full account of this argument, see I. Blühdorn, Post-Ecologist Politics: Social Theory and the Abdication of the Ecologist Paradigm (London: Routledge, 2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 38.
    M. Shellenberger and T. Nordhaus, The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Postenvironmental World (Washington: Environmental Grantmakers Association/The Breakthrough Institute, 2004), 5, 6, italics in original.Google Scholar
  29. 39.
    M. Shellenberger and T. Nordhaus. Shellenberger and T. Nordhaus, ‘Evolve: The Case for Modernization as the Road to Salvation’, in Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene, ed. M. Shellenberger and T. Nordhaus (Washington: Shellenberger and T. 2011), 14, 22–3.Google Scholar
  30. 40.
    E. Swyngedouw, ‘Impossible “Sustainability” and the Postpolitical Condition’, in The Sustainable Development Paradox: Urban Political Economy in the United States and Europe, ed. R. Kreuger and D. Gibbs (New York: The Guilford Press, 2007), 25–6.Google Scholar
  31. 43.
    B.S. Turner, ‘Contemporary Problems in the Theory of Citizenship’, in Citizenship and Social Theory, ed. B.S. Turner (London: Sage, 1993), 3.Google Scholar
  32. 44.
    J. Valdivielso, ‘Social Citizenship and the Environment’, Environmental Politics 14, no. 2 (2005): 241–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 45.
    E.F. Isin and P.K. Wood, Citizenship and Identity (London: Sage, 1999), 4, italics in original.Google Scholar
  34. 46.
    B. van Steenbergen, ‘Towards a Global Ecological Citizen’, in The Condition of Citizenship, ed. B. van Steenbergen (London: Sage, 1994);Google Scholar
  35. B.S. Turner, ‘Outline of a Theory of Citizenship (originally published in Sociology 24 (2): 189–217)’, in Citizenship: Critical Concepts, ed. B.S. Turner and P. Hamilton (London: Routledge, 1994 [1990]); —, ‘Contemporary Problems in the Theory of Citizenship’;Google Scholar
  36. —, ‘The Erosion of Citizenship’, British Journal of Sociology 52, no. 2 (2001): 189–209; —, ‘Marshall, Social Rights and English Identity’, Citizenship Studies 13, no. 1 (2009); Isin and Wood, Citizenship and Identity; Valdivielso, ‘Social Citizenship and the Environment’; A. Latta, ‘Locating Democratic Politics in Ecological Citizenship’, Environmental Politics 16, no. 3 (2007); S. Susen, ‘The Transformation of Citizenship in Complex Societies’, Classical Sociology 10, no. 3 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 51.
    J.S. Dryzek, Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 83.Google Scholar
  38. 52.
    See T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Dryzek, Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. C. Offe, Contradictions of the Welfare State (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  40. 54.
    R. Inglehart, The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles Among Western Publics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977);Google Scholar
  41. —, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Societies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990);Google Scholar
  42. —, Modernization and Postmodernization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  43. 55.
    D. Schlosberg, Defining Environmental Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. —, Environmental Justice and the New Pluralism: the Challenge of Difference for Environmentalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  45. 61.
    L. Dumont, From Mandeville to Marx: The Genesis and Triumph of Economic Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 18–19. Cited in E. Chiapello, ‘Reconciling the Two Principal Meanings of the Notion of Ideology: The Example of the Concept of the “New Spirit of Capitalism”’, European Journal of Social Theory 6, no. 2 (2003).Google Scholar
  46. 62.
    R. Williams, The Sociology of Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  47. 63.
    L. Boltanski and L. Thévenot, On Justification: Economies of Worth, ed. P. DiMaggio et al., trans. C. Porter, Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006 [1991]).Google Scholar
  48. 65.
    L. Dumont and C. Delacampagne, ‘Louis Dumont and the Indian Mirror’, RAIN 43 (1981): 6.Google Scholar
  49. 69.
    L. Thévenot, ‘The Plurality of Cognitive Formats and Engagements: Moving between the Familiar and the Public’, European Journal of Social Theory 10, no. 3 (2007): 411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 71.
    The key models of justice developed by Boltanski and Thévenot are the market (valuing self-interested performance); industrial efficiency (valuing technical competence and long-term planning); civic engagement (valuing technique); domesticity (valuing local and personal embodied ties); inspiration (expressed in creativity and valuing emotion or religious ‘grace’); and, renown (valuing pubic opinion, charisma and fame). Further work by Boltanski and Chiapello identifies with contemporary postindustrial conditions a projective/connex-ionist model (valuing flexibility, spontaneity and networking). Meanwhile, alternate contemporaneous research by Thévenot with Claudette Lafaye and Michael Moody identifies a green model of justice (valuing wilderness and sensitivity to environmental limits). See Boltanski and Thévenot, On Justification: Economies of Worth; L. Boltanski and E. Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans. G. Elliott (London: Verso Books, 2005 [1999]);Google Scholar
  51. L. Thévenot, M. Moody, and C. Lafaye, ‘Forms of Valuing Nature: Arguments and Modes of Justification in French and American Environmental Disputes’, in Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology, ed. L. Thévenot and M. Lamont (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  52. 73.
    P. Lascoumes, ‘Les Instruments D’action Publique, Traceurs De Changement: L’exemple Des Transformations De La Politique Française De Lutte Contre La Pollution Atmospherique (1961–2006)’, Politique et Societies 26, no. 2–3 (2007); —, L’eco-Pouvoir, Environnements Et Politiques (Paris: La Découverte, 1994).Google Scholar
  53. 76.
    M. Steger, The Rise of the Global Imaginary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  54. 77.
    A. Honneth, ‘Organized Self-Realization: Some Paradoxes of Individualization’, European Journal of Social Theory 7, no. 4 (2004): 476;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. R. Sennett, The Culture of the New Capitalism (London: Yale University Press, 2005);Google Scholar
  56. Z. Bauman, The Individualized Society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  57. 78.
    Z. Trachtenberg, ‘Complex Green Citizenship and the Necessity of Judgement’, Environmental Politics 19, no. 3 (2010): 350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 79.
    R. Geuss, Outside Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 226.Google Scholar
  59. 80.
    R. Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 9–16.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andy Scerri 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andy Scerri

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations