Ecological Modernization and the Environmental Transition of Europe : Between National Variations and Common Denominators

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Abstract

Environmental policies and politics in the countries of the European Union (EU) have transformed dramatically over the past two decades. Ecological modernization theory has tried to understand and capture the nature of the transformations from the mid-1980s onwards, having a limited number of North-west European nations as its empirical base. This article reviews the development of ecological modernization ideas for analysing such environmental reforms, especially focusing on the tension between national variations reported in empirical research and common denominators claimed by ecological modernization theorists. The article concludes that (i) since the empirical basis on which ecological modernization ideas are founded (environmental reforms in North-west Europe) shows remarkable diversity, we do not have to be too afraid of diversity and other regional variations of ecological modernization ideas; and (ii) there is still sufficient common ground among national variations and sufficient distinction and debate with other schools of thought in the environmental social sciences to speak of one theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-181
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Volume1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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