Ecologism Theory

  • Need for radical socio-political change. Anti-industrialisation – Kropotkin and Morris.
  • Ideas about interconnectedness, holism, natural balance, sustainability and environmental ethics.
  • Growing recognition that the threat to the environment had an important ideological dimension in the form of anthropocentrism (human centred bias – human needs of overriding moral and philosophical importance). This has been seen in mainstream politics; with all major parties have environmental policies and the growing increase in the number of environmental pressure groups.
  • Emergence of ‘deep’ ecology – embraced a fully eco-centric world-view that rejected anthropocentrism altogether. Had to be a form of thinking entirely within itself – not hybrid ideology.
  • Attempts to re-orientate people’s relationship with and appreciation of the non-human world. Transforms human consciousness and expands the range of our moral responsibilities.

                                Anthropocentricism                                               Ecocentricism


Modernist ecology (shallow)

Deep ecology

Core goal

Balance between ecology and capitalist modernity.

Paradigm shift: reject mechanistic/atomistic world view.


Limits to growth – environmental degradation ultimately threatens prosperity.


Radical holism – whole is more important than parts.

James Lovelock called earth Gaia, the Greek name for the goddess of earth

Argues that there is a balance to be kept. Nature has hardly changed and we are altering it without knowledge of the consequences



Sustainable development with mankind designing other ways for the planet to become more sustainable.

Industrialisation criticised through either capitalism or communism

“Spaceship earth” used as a metaphor to help us to realise that there are finite resources

Schumacher in “Small is beautiful” critical of our use of fossil fuels

Enivronmental Ethics

Modern liberal value - Enlightened anthropocentricism – individuals take into account long-term interests.


Goodin put forward green “theory of value” – resources should be valued as they come from a natural process

Biocentric egalitarianism Arne Naess developed idea “equal right to live and bloom”


Self Actualisation

Concern for future generations – Burkean view

Balance is between personal fulfillment and nature

Post materialism explains nature and political concerns and values in terms of economic development

Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” placing self- esteem and self actualisation above financial gain



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