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Citizen Environmentalists
James Longhurst

Available only as an ebook.

Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

2010 • 264 pp. 16 photos. 2 maps. 6 charts. 5 tables. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Political Science & Government / Ecology & Environmental Studies / History / Pittsburgh

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-911-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Longhurst cogently argues that the modern environmental movement’s significance lies less in its interest in the environment than in the ‘fundamental change in the relationship between citizens and their government... [continued in Reviews below]”—Choice

A telling look at the lives and strategies of women environmental activists in the long 1960s, solidly grounded in a national context

Using a case study of environmental debates about air pollution in Pittsburgh during the late 1960s and early 1970s, James Longhurst examines larger trends in citizen activism outside party politics, linking those trends with the rights revolution of the late twentieth century. He draws upon journalistic accounts, archival documents, legal records, and interviews to explore the actions and arguments of GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution). This group of environmental activists gained access to political power through claims to citizenship and scientific expertise, supported by the organizational skills, social capital, and maternal rhetoric of middle-class women. Once they gained entry to a newly confrontational policy process, the group engaged in furious public debates over implementation, enforcement, and employment, all amid the decline of Pittsburgh’s industrial economy. The grassroots actions of GASP, and many other groups like it across the nation, show that new developments in policy-making, concepts of citizenship, and the long-standing tradition of middle-class women’s civic activism did more to drive the creation of the modern environmental movement than did changes in environmental philosophy.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Longhurst cogently argues that the modern environmental movement’s significance lies less in its interest in the environment than in the ‘fundamental change in the relationship between citizens and their government.’ . . . This book is effectively conceptualized, organized, researched, and written. Accessible to general audiences, it is especially valuable for historians, political scientists, sociologists, and those in environmental studies. Recommended.”Choice

Citizen Environmentalists ties environmental activism in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mid-twentieth-century ‘rights revolution’ and earlier urban sanitation reform. . . . By narrowing his attention to a local case study, Longhurst reveals and illuminates aspects of environmentalism that other historians have neglected or completely missed in national-oriented, top-down investigations.”Journal of American History

“In Citizen Environmentalists, James Longhurst demonstrates that historical explanations of the modern environmental movement must take local context and political power into account. . . . By stressing local rather than national events and by integrating a political-science perspective with urban social history, Longhurst provides new insights into the sources and development of environmental activism.”The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

“Longhurst [makes an] important contribution to the literature of environmentalism. Scholars of environmental politics will learn much from this work.”Environmental History

“This book is ever so much more than a captivating tale of citizen participation in clearing smoke from Pittsburgh. It is history at its finest. James Longhurst probes the why, what, and how of effective grass roots involvement in technological policymaking. He persuasively associates citizenship opportunities with contextual changes in demography, civil rights, legislation, and communication. More than a good read, Citizen Environmentalists is exceptional and purposeful scholarship.”—Charles O. Jones, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Citizen Environmentalists uses an examination of language and a multidisciplinary approach to take the history of the environmental movement in a new direction. James Longhurst’s focus on Pittsburgh as his major case study offers a rich portrayal of grassroots reform at its best. This book situates itself very well amongst the scholarship on environmental reform produced in the last several decades.”—Martin V. Melosi, University of Houston

JAMES LONGHURST is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:50 -0500