Framing emerging environmental movement tactics: Mobilizing consensus, demobilizing conflict

David N. Pellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This paper is a study of an emerging environmental decision-making model that attempts to move beyond traditionally adversarial approaches toward "consensus building." Consensus-based decision making ostensibly allows activists equal power with industrialists and state actors in environmental policy-making. This research builds upon the growing literature on frame-analysis by demonstrating that there are instances when challengers actually engage in collaborative framing with their adversaries. This does not presume that activists reject oppositional framing altogether. In these cases, environmentalists actually draw on a mixture of confrontation and negotiation in this innovative form of collective action that positions them in contexts most environmentalists never experience - a place at the decision-making table with elites. This study reveals that environmentalists are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to protect local communities and natural resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-683
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In the remaining sections, I present data from interviewswith environmental activists who have worked on CBDM projects. Interviewees are members of nonprofit organizations ranging from store front groups in poor and minority communities to established organizations with multimillion dollar budgets and national membership rolls. These projects often are sponsored by the U.S. or state Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA)—where industrialists, government representatives, and environmental activists work toward consensus on a variety of environmental policies. CBDM projects range from an effort to control the flow of profits from a recyclingprogram within a state's borders to streamlining regulations allowing for the risk-free redevelopment of contaminated land in urban areas.


  • Collaborative frames
  • Collective action frames
  • Consensus-based decision making
  • Environmental justice
  • Political economy


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