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Engaging the EverydayEnvironmental Social Criticism and the Resonance Dilemma$
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John M. Meyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028905

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028905.001.0001

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The Question of Materiality in Environmental Politics

The Question of Materiality in Environmental Politics

Chapter:
(p.47) 3 The Question of Materiality in Environmental Politics
Source:
Engaging the Everyday
Author(s):

John M. Meyer

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262028905.003.0003

The role and position of materiality is — perhaps surprisingly — deeply divisive among both scholars and activists concerned with environmental sustainability. On the one hand is an account – often rooted in Ronald Inglehart’s postmaterialist values thesis but also reflected in the “eco-modernism” of authors including Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus – that minimizes the role of “objective” material conditions and practices in favor of “subjective” values. On the other hand is an account that reverses this relationship. This chapter argues for a conception of materiality and material practices that rejects this subjective/objective divide as a lens for understanding contemporary environmental politics. “New materialism” offers promising resources for this pursuit of a new understanding of environmental politics, but also contains potential pitfalls identified in this chapter.

Keywords:   postmaterialist values, eco-modernism, material practices, new materialism, Ronald Inglehart, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus

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