Environmentalism in transition? Emerging perspectives, issues and futures practices in contemporary environmentalism

Stephen McGrail

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17 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I consider desired and in-progress reframing of environmentalism to better "fit" and influence the contemporary context. This review is structured by the Transformation Cycle, a critical futures studies tool. Emerging perspectives, issues and practices are highlighted and interpreted to contribute to research and action pursuing more sustainable futures. I draw on Dryzek's model of competing environmental discourses and the concept of "waves" of environmentalism, and ask: is environmentalism in transition? The article presents evidence of increased "futurism" (as defined by Jim Dator) in environmental movements and new forms of "positive dissent" (as defined by Richard Slaughter) that demonstrate significant innovations in the use of futures methods to create desired futures. The article concludes by reconsidering and reasserting the case for the futures and environmental fields working more closely together.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-144
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Futures Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • Discourse analysis
  • Environmental discourses
  • Environmental movements
  • Normative futures
  • Positive dissent
  • Sustainability

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