The Climate Movement in Germany

Authored by: Georg Kössler

Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415839259
eBook ISBN: 9780203773536
Adobe ISBN: 9781135038878


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This would be a sad text if it was starting with the message that a climate movement in Germany does not exist. Nevertheless, activists and scientists are permanently discussing this question. This chapter holds the founded assumption that there is a climate movement in Germany. The character, activities, problems, and challenges of the movement shall be described. Furthermore, the different approaches of acting existing in the movement are analyzed. The chapter finally calls on the movement to become more aware of itself. A short look at scientific definitions of social movements is sufficient to justify the classification of climate activism in Germany as movement. In literature, social movements are described as collective actors (Raschke 1985: 76) which consist of persons, groups, and organizations related in networks (Rucht and Neidhardt 2007: 634) and engaged in (symbolical) interaction (Raschke 1985: 78). The members of a movement are characterized by a collective identity (Hellmann 1998: 19–20) and their participation is of certain continuity (Raschke 1985: 77–78). As regards the classification of the German case it is also useful to look at established movements such as the antiwar movement, the women’s movement, or the antinuclear movement. These examples show that movements do not have to be coherent and permanently active collectives, although these are popular requirements for movements. People from the German left, who some years ago started to engage in climate politics, have contributed to the foundation of a phenomenon that indeed can be termed as climate movement.

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