Political Responses to Environmental Activism Tactics: A matrix analysis approach using case studies from the anti-pesticide movement in eastern Canada between 1960-2000
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Despite scientific and social support, campaigns of the environmental movement often struggle to gain political traction. This research explores political responses to environmental activism using a matrix analysis approach that compares various activism tactics with six designations of potential political response in order to better understand the relationship between activism tactics and the polity, and to consider the relevance of Antonio Gramsci’s Counter-Hegemonic theory within the environmental movement. Case studies are drawn from five campaigns within eastern Canada’s anti-pesticide spraying movement between 1960-2000, largely collected from the archives of the Ecology Action Centre. Discussion of the case study results suggest that Gramsci’s indicators of successful counter-hegemony do not appear to affect the overall likelihood of receiving a political response, but that some individual tactics or trends in tactical approach consistently appear more advantageous. A critical analysis of the method also reflects on the matrices’ ability to synthesize information about complex and interconnected events, so that they can be displayed, understood, and compared visually, while also maintaining their complexity and narrative depth. This research provides an interdisciplinary analysis approach, applies activism theory to tactics and events as the intersection between polity and activism, and also adds to the understanding of environmental activism within the Canadian context.