chapter  9
15 Pages

Evolving group identities: the role of ‘categories’ and audience

The British environmental movement: blending and mixing forms While the general interest group literature is largely silent on the issue of organizational form, sector specialists are more attentive to qualitative differences across sets of related groups, and over time. The literature on the antecedents of the modern UK environment movement observes several broad – but by no means neat or orderly – phases of organizational development. A review of the literature provides a narrative as follows (see also discussion in Chapters 4 and 8). Very early organizations emerged as ‘Societies’ in the late 1800s with the aim of preserving specific sites of environmental or conservation value through direct purchase with funds elicited from elites. Legislative aims were pursued by influence owing to personal contacts among wealthy benefactors, ministers and parliamentarians. Many of these groups also had an amateur science or natural history element to them, whereby individuals went on study trips and collected specimens or made observations (Rootes 2009, 205). Post-First World War organizations continued in much the same mode, but targeted new social conditions. The Ramblers targeted the working class and their demand for access to the countryside, while the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) organized middle-class professionals opposed to pressures for uncontrolled urbanization of rural areas (as soldiers return from war), and achieved influence by virtue of the vocational position of its members (as planners and architects) (Rootes 2009, 206). According to Rawcliffe these groups tended to be based on more decentralized structures – given planning and access emphasis (1998, 16). The postSecond World War period saw development of specialized nature protection groups, such as the Mammal Society. According to students of the UK environment movement, a key break point was the formation of the WWF UK, in 1961. It was

A bridge between old and the new, WWF was, like the early nature conservation organizations, an elite initiative to raise funds for wildlife conservation, enjoying royal patronage and relying on wealthy individuals for initial funding. But in a foretaste of what was to come a decade later, it employed mass media to broadcast its message.