Dissertation Abstracts

Social Ecology Challenges Environmental Participation: Hes Opposition Cases in Turkey

Author: Eryilmaz, Cagri , cagrideniz@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Helga Rittersberger Tılıç
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: social ecology , environmentalism , grassroots , citizenship
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Social Classes and Social Movements , Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management


The main research question of this thesis is “How can opposition to HES (a small scale hydroelectricity plant) be analyzed in terms of social ecology?” This raises a second research question: “How can any environmental action be analyzed in terms of social ecology?” With regards to ecological crisis, Murray Bookchin’s social ecology develops q strong criticism of liberal environmentalism, deep ecology and Marxism and provides an alternative radical social change, which he calls Libertarian Municipalism (LM). Social ecology criticizes environmentalism for legitimizing the status quo and the destruction of nature. It offers an ecological approach for a real solution. The LM movement is a political program of social ecology with the aim of creating a rational, ecological and democratic society, that is free of domination and therefore, does not dominate nature. I developed a LM movement model from Janet Biehl’s study and integrated this model into George Pepper’s classification of environmentalism to reach a Classification Table (CT) that is based on social ecological principles. The CT is an attempt to develop a tool to analyze all sorts of environmental activities according to social ecology.

The implementation of CT in the field study shows that HES opposition has the desire of strict state controls and planning as significant aspects of welfare-liberal environmentalism. By contrast, the common critique of central, urban, professional and funding-dependent environmentalism of national ENGOs fits the market-liberal environmentalism critique of the LM model. The increasing demand to join decisionmaking mechanism, the bottom-up regional organization of local platforms and “living space” discourse show an LM tendency. In fact, HES threat ignites local people's demands for participation.

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