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A Challenge to the Postmaterialism Thesis?” Social …

Cross-national studies have found positive relationships of socioeconomic status (SES) with environmental concern at the individual level but have not systematically examined how the relationships may differ across nations. Such comparisons have relevance to identifying the generality of theories of postmaterialism, affluence, and global environmentalism.

Challenge to the Postmaterialism Thesis

The hypotheses imply support for the global environmentalism predictions of weak SES differences in nations with lower income and worse environmental conditions and support for the postmaterialism and affluence arguments of strong SES differences in nations with higher income and better environmental conditions. The hypotheses can further distinguish between the affluence and postmaterialist arguments by examining the varied influence of postmaterialism along with the varied influence of SES. The influence of postmaterialism on environmental concern may increase with national income and environment quality much as the influence of SES does.

Global Environmentalism: A Challenge to the Postmaterialism Thesis?

Annotated Bibliography for Concentration on …

This study began with a question: Does the influence of SES on environmental concern vary meaningfully across nations? The results demonstrate that they do, and new insights for evaluating theories of environmental concern follow. The positive effects of SES increase significantly with national income, human development, and environmental quality. In low- and middle-income nations, SES has weak influence, and support for environmental quality disperses throughout the hierarchy. Indeed, the high willingness to pay for environmental quality appears among all SES groups. These findings support the global environmentalism theory, which points to burgeoning environmentalism across the world. In higher income nations, SES effects are stronger and reveal a positive gradient. These findings support the postmaterialism and affluence theories, which point to high environmental support among high SES groups in rich nations. Each theory receives support when its cross-national domain is specified. Ideally, the results will help to resolve debates that assume only one theory is correct. The complexity of the influence of SES leaves room for theoretical eclecticism.

To check these results, also presents interactions for the individual-level postmaterialism scale. Although postmaterialism does not directly measure SES (r = .14 with education), it may overlap enough with affluence and economic security such that evidence of widening differences would lend additional support to the interaction hypotheses. All 12 interactions are positive and significant. Differences in environmental concern between materialists and postmaterialists are largest in richer, more developed nations with better environmental conditions.

Annotated Bibliography for Concentration on Ecofeminism ..


I offer an alternative approach focused on two macro-level characteristics – national income and environmental quality – that have proven important for the level of environmental concern and likewise may prove important for the micro-level influence of SES. An integrative hypothesis posits that SES effects – or SES disparities – are smallest in countries with low national income and poor environmental conditions, and they are largest in countries with high national income and better environmental conditions. The predictions of the global environmentalism theory of weak SES influence thus apply most to the former group of countries and predictions of the postmaterialism and affluence theories of positive SES influence apply most the latter group of countries. This hypothesis encompasses three claims.

Second, the severe environmental threat in industrializing nations tends to level or attenuate individual SES differences. With unpleasant, unaesthetic, and unhealthy environmental conditions, the affluent and poor alike in lower-income countries may express concerns about environmental quality. In rural communities, both landowners and poorer tenants may oppose the loss of farmland, woodlands, and open space to industrialization, making ruralism a source of environmentalism (). In urban communities, both the middle class and poor may oppose the mounting pollution of air and water from factories and automobiles (). Still further, diverse SES groups in industrializing nations may unite in their concern about the harm of exploitation of natural resources by foreign corporations (). With low income and poor environmental conditions, then, SES will do little to distinguish support for environmental quality. Based on this reasoning, the global environmentalism arguments and the prediction of high environmental concern among low SES groups may apply most to less affluent nations with poor environmental conditions. In contrast, the postmaterialist and affluence arguments and the prediction of high environmental concern among high SES groups may not apply because the environmental threat overrides the importance of amenity and postmaterialist motivations ().

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Global Environmentalism: A Challenge ..

The global environmentalism theory receives support at the cross-national level (; ; ; ; ). Even willingness-to-pay measures, expected to be biased toward a direct relationship with national income () because the rich can devote money to support environmental actions and the poor can devote only time and effort (; ), have an inverse relationship to national product in these studies. As noted, however, evidence shows positive rather than negative SES relationship at the individual level.

Values and Environmentally Conscious Behaviour (ECB)

To briefly review, postmaterialist and affluence theories predict positive relationships between SES and environmental concern, while global environmentalism theory predicts zero or negative relationships. The micro-level evidence on SES confirms a positive relationship, but a problem may come from the assumption of most theories and studies that SES has invariant relationships with environmental concern. If, in contrast to the assumption, the relationships vary across countries, some countries may show positive relationships, while others show nil or negative relationships. The key is to identify national sources of the differences.

Values and Environmentally Conscious Behaviour ..

A third approach contends that environmental concern is not a privilege restricted to the secure and affluent. Instead, advocates argue that a “global environmentalism” has emerged which includes support for environmental improvement by socioeconomically disadvantaged populations within relatively poor countries (, ). The logic behind the claim is that disadvantaged individuals often depend more directly on local environments and have greater exposure to environmental ills (). As such, they have substantial motivation for environmental conservation, as evidenced by vibrant grassroots environmentalism in many less developed settings (, 1997). There are clear socioeconomic inequalities in environmental exposure and negative impacts due to environmental degradation – with disadvantaged groups more likely to experience adverse environmental conditions (). Conversely, relatively advantaged groups and countries can better afford to protect themselves from myriad environmental insults (Brechin and Kemptom 1994). In this way, objective environmental problems faced by less advantaged individuals may stimulate environmental engagement of the poor and lead to zero or negative relationships between SES and environmental concern (; ).

Environmental Social Science | Water Resources | …

Advocates of the postmaterialist and affluence arguments, noting differences in types of environmental concern, generally favor measures of the willingness to pay for environmental improvement (; ). They argued that willingness to pay better taps deeply held views than more general approval of environmental protection, Absent economic cost, favorable opinions about protecting the environment may be so easily adopted as to have little relationship with postmaterialism or affluence. In contrast, measures of willingness to pay better isolate postmaterialist from materialist forms of environmental concern (). Others claim, however, that financial measures bias comparisons toward affluent groups ().

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