People react differently when the topic of the ‘environment’ and sustainable activities is introduced. Some people are very passionate about the environment and others feel that the issue is “too broad” for us to tackle and it is a problem for the “powers that be”.Psychologists have directly studied causes of and effective methods for encouraging pro-environmental behavior. However, psychology has typically ignored the collective nature of environmental goods.
I thought I would start by adding what collective action is as a concept to start my presentation, I think it’s important to reassess the direction we are coming from here as social psychologists and also so I wouldn’t get side tracked….Read the quote
I thought I would also break down the concept of collective action into its components which all feed into the concepts of environmental sustainability and group action toward a sustainable future.The first being perceived injustice and in an environmental setting this may involve group-based anger towards globalized unsustainable activity acting as a motivating factor to rectify deprivationThe second is perceived efficacy which strongly ties into the concept of collective interest which I will explain a bit later on and in this case involves the objective, structural resources necessary to mobilize change relating to the environment through social protestThe last is social identity which I will acknowledge here but will not go into great detail as it would require a whole new study but essentially it means that if membership to a particular group is perceived as disadvantaged (E.g. a group of environmental activists) the social identity theory predicts that collective action processes will be employed in an attempt to increase the status of the group. On an individual level, the participation in collective action involves a few of these aspects mentioned by Everett (1994)
Holding aspects such as personal and group efficacy constant, higher valued public goods may increase participation in collective action.Even though much of social psychology and in collective action rests on the equitable division of resources between individuals, groups etc. this may not always be feasible in the sustainable use of resources. These concepts have different denotations, connotations and implications, and Ikeme (2003) calls for clarification in his article regarding environmental justice and equity in sustainability.You may be aware of the concept of social capital and it ties in with public goods as “subjectively” valuable resources (and I say subjectively because individuals and groups value public goods on various levels) but I will briefly describe it here as networks and flows of information between individuals and groups to oil the wheels of decision making. These sets of networks are usefully described as an asset of an individual or a society. Although it is described as a necessary element of economic transactions and collective action on scarceenvironmentalresources, itisarguedthat the concept of social capital conflates cause and effect and in this case ‘private’ and ‘public’ dimensions but and the current understandings of social capital may not be helpful in advancing individuals conception of natural capital as an individual asset. However, evenif social capital does not share the same characteristics as other forms of capital it plays an important role in obtaining and providing access to natural capital for individuals and societies.
Studying environmentally sustainable behaviours and attitudes is a difficult task to study within a “collective action” framework specifically due to this fact that environmental issues are on a global scale so the probability of influencing environmental issues such as climate change on an individual level is virtual nil. This also includes concepts such as instrumental voice and non-instrumental voiceWillingness to participate in collective-action endeavors also depends on the potential participant's perception of the collective-action's likelihood of success, the sense of urgency associated with the collective activity, personal and collective benefits and costs of participation. Factors affecting this perception include predisposition toward and awareness of the issue at hand, belief in individual efficacy, assessment rationale, incentives, convenience, demographics, social networks, attitudes, and beliefs (Fireman and Gamson 1979; Hardin 1982; Mitchell 1979; Oberschall 1973).
Olson’s (1970) logic of collective action suggests that perceived efficacy (pi) is close to zero in large groups; when an individual has little chanceof influencingcollective outcomes, it is rational to free ride on the efforts of others.The benefits of actions by other people are non-excludable and even if someone was keen to partake in sustainable behaviours, many of the recommended behaviours have relatively high individual costs attached (Lubell et al, 2007).Therefore the “rational egoist” will “free-ride” on the efforts of others (much like the “arm chair” activism Samantha and Noelle both explored in their presentations)These behaviours unfortunately lead to what we all know as the ‘tragedy of the commons’ in which there is a depletion of a shared resourceby individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to their long-term best interests.
Originally developed by Finkel, Muller & Opp (1989) the collective interest model of collective action is a good framework to view environmentally sustainable behaviours.The model includes the function of citizen beliefs about collective benefits, the ability to influence collective outcomes and the selective cost/benefits of participationThe collective interest variables incorporate the logic of free-riding by acknowledging that the contribution of a single individual only raises the probability of successfully providing a public good by a small amount. From this perspective, how individuals perceive their own personal influence on collective outcomes is the critical value, the expected value of collective action increases as perceived personal efficacy (pi) increases.As mentioned before in the ‘free-rider’ slide, when an individual has little chance of influencing collective outcomes, it is rational to free ride on the efforts of others.The collective interest model, on the other hand, suggests that people systematically overestimate their personal efficacy and thus are more likely to engage in collective action than Olsonian logic would predict.
As I noted before, this model was originally developed to measure protest behaviour so it has also been developed to explain environmental activism. Mark Lubell argues that environmental activism is a function of citizen beliefs about collective benefits, the ability to influence collective outcomes, and the selective costs/benefits of participation. These are all concepts that I covered before when explaining the reasons as to why people may not engage in sustainable behaviours.Key vulnerable groups are often excluded from making decisions on the public management of climate-related risks. Poor households are, for example, forced to live in hazardous areas on the margins of urban settlements, which puts them at risk of flooding, and are frequently ignored when the infrastructure is designed to alleviate such vulnerabilities. The spaceoccupied by socially marginalized groups itself becomes invisible (cf. Scott 1998). The vulnerability of marginalized groups and their exclusion from decision making has been documented throughout the world
The state of Karnataka contends that it does not receive its due share of water from the river as does Tamil Nadu (you can see on the map how the river runs through both areas)Karnataka claims that these agreements were skewed heavily in favour of the Madras Presidency, and has demanded a renegotiated settlement based on "equitable sharing of the waters". Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, pleads that it has already developed almost 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of land and as a result has come to depend very heavily on the existing pattern of usage. Any change in this pattern, it says, will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of farmers in the state.Decades of negotiations between the parties has not come to fruition however, and despite certain interventions by the Indian government, the dispute appears not to have concluded.A commitment to sustainability as inter-generational fairness implies that the use of natural resources (such as fresh water) to meet the needs of the present population does not compromise the ability of futureAnand and Sen (2000) point out, fairness here implies universalism to the extent that citizens of the present generation and citizens of future generations, irrespective of race, gender, and so forth, are treated in a similar manner. In practice, however, ‘sustainability’ is interpreted as a natural resource constraint on development by imposing limits; for example, on how much water can be A potential problem in these approaches is that people concerned are treated passively.
This list of principles was taken from the “Global Compact’s”, CEO Water Mandate-‘Guide to Water Related Collective Action’As you can see here, they have used clear tenants of collective action to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. Concepts of “equity” or fairness are made absolutely imperative in principle 1 and 3 as well as the ideas around genuineness which is also an important component when considering intention and how that affects emotions and collective action.In principle 2 and 5 the mandate highlights the importance of not infringing upon current laws and procedures that have been set up by the government which stops corporations from stepping outside a ‘procedural justice’ framework. This may provide a sense of safety for the public that their best interests are being included within the policy.Principle 4 recognises the value that the public places on the resource of water and aims to involve a wide range of interested parties this includes the concepts of instrumental voice and perceived efficacy.This is in clear contrast to the issues raised in the Indian water dispute in which policies were simply enforced upon the public or not at all. The public had no faith in the governments ability to handle the situation and nothing was resolved.
This will be compared with a sample of individualswho do not live in a region with a river close by. In this case, I would choose central Auckland but non-university students because I like to make my life harder no really because we are all a bunch of hippies who are aware of environmental issues.My main objective is to explore the effect of perception of efficacy on attitudes and behaviours regarding water consumption in an area within rural New Zealand which has access to the water from a river I want to explore whether those who have access to rivers that host hydroelectric generating stations for Mighty River Power (i.e. Waikato river) have varied attitudes to their rights to water due to the recent plans to sell shares of the Mighty River Power company.Lastly, I wish to explore whether processes of procedural justice and issues around percieved equity have an effect on the value that participants place on the river as a resource.
On the 3rd hypothesis I believe that this will occur because the participants will place a higher value into the river resource due to the recent disputes over ‘Mighty River Power’
I will be using a non-probability sampling technique known commonly as a judgmental sampling technique. Purposive sampling is one technique often employed in qualitative investigation. With a purposive non-random sample the number of people interviewed is less important than the criteria used to select them. The characteristics of individuals are used as the basis of selection, most often chosen to reflect the diversity and breadth of the sample population.
Here are some examples of the questions I would ask the participantsPart 1 would have some more specific information about the participants i.e. which region they are from so that I can code the themes later onThe later parts would have some questions about behaviours that the participants engage in with regards to sustainability and the environment
Its not my problem presentation
“Collective action is at the heart of many decisions on the management of
natural resources.” (Adgar, 2003)
COLLECTIVE INTEREST, ENVIRONMENTAL
SUSTAINABILITY AND NEW ZEALAND’S RIVERS
What is collective action?
Common-pool resources and sustainability
Barriers to sustainability: Free-riding
Introduction to the „Collective Interest‟ model
Examples and case studies involving
Collective Interest and the environment
WHAT IS COLLECTIVE ACTION?
“Collective action is traditionally defined as
any action aiming to improve the group’s
conditions (such as status or power), which
is enacted by a representative of the group”
(Wright et al, 1990)
COLLECTIVE ACTION: MAIN COMPONENTS
i.e. The objective, structural resources necessary to mobilize change relating to the
environment through social protest
i.e. Group-based anger towards globalised environmentally unsustainable actions as
motivation to rectify state of unfair deprivation
i.e. People strive to achieve and maintain positive social identities associated with
their group memberships
Individual level environmental collective action involves the widespread
adoption of particular, individual level behaviours, protection of the
environment and the production of collective goods (Everett, 1994)
COMMON-POOL RESOURCES, COLLECTIVE
ACTION AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
Common-pool resources e.g. water, fossil fuels
Moral aspects of global environmental decisions
Differences between equity and environmental justice
Term used extensively in the scholarship that has focused on different
exposure of minorities to environmental stresses and risks
Networks and flows of information between individuals and groups
and are an asset of an individual or society (Adgar, 2003)
Necessary element of economic transactions and collective action on
scarce environmental resources (Adgar, 2003)
WHAT’S STOPPING PEOPLE BEING
Individual actions have little
influence over collective
outcomes (Olson, 1970).
Perceived instrumental voice is
Low perception of likelihood of
Lack of personal efficacy (Finkel et
Low sense of urgency
High individual cost (Lubell, 2007)
Low personal and collective
FREE-RIDERS: HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING
Low efficacy = “Rational egoist”
Free-riders do not contribute to the
production of a collective good but
share in its benefit. (Everett, 1994)
Free-riding leads to an undersupply
of environmental activism or
oversupply of environmental harms
Incentives especially powerful in
large groups individual actions have
only a minuscule influence on
collective outcomes (Olson, 1970).
Tragedy of the commons
COLLECTIVE INTEREST (CI) MODEL
First developed to explain protest behavior and social movement participation
(Finkel & Muller, 1998; Finkel, Muller, & Opp, 1989; Gibson, 1997).
Function of citizen beliefs about collective benefits, the ability to influence
collective outcomes and the selective cost/benefits of participation (Lubell, 2002)
Lubell, Zahran & Vedlitz (2007)
People will participate in a collective endeavor when the expected value of
participation is greater than the expected value of non-participation.
People judge the expected value of participation by assessing the total value
of the public good, the probability their participation will affect collective
outcomes, and the selective benefits and costs of participation.
Perceived risk, personal efficacy, and environmental values are key features of
CI model in relation to the environment
Also found to be directly, and positively, related to support of government policies and
personal behaviors that affect global warming.
MARK LUBELL (2002) COLLECTIVE INTEREST
AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
Public good characteristics of
“Key vulnerable groups are often
excluded from making decisions on
the public management of climate
related risks” (Adger, 2003)
1,606 U.S. citizens from the 1993
General Social Survey (GSS)
Questions about environmental
Survey of environmental attitudes
among 460 residents from around
New York city
EXAMINATION OF CAUVERY (KAVERI) RIVER
WATER DISPUTE IN INDIA (ANAND, 2007):
“Water disputes concern water resources that
are public or common goods. Resolving such
disputes requires inter-dependent actions by
more than one party; that is, collective action”
(Sandler, 1992; Anand, 2003).
Karnataka vs. Tamil Nadu
Dispute over perceived inequity of shares of
Issues related to justice and fairness
How citizens perceive their claim over river
Extent to which citizens are able to
collectivize their claims through location,
Economic activity and identity, and use
their voice to influence the state;
The extent to which the state policy and
actions reflect the „voice‟ and
Collective interests of different groups;
How the various riparian states recognize
and deal with each others‟ claims.
Sustainability a “natural resource
constraint” on development, imposing
limits such as “how much water can be
extracted or used”.
Collective Interest and Common-Pool Resources: New Zealand Rivers
OBJECTIVE AND AIMS
Using the CI model I would like to explore the effect of perception of
personal efficacy and perceived risk on attitudes and behaviours
regarding the water consumption in an area within New Zealand which
has access to the water from a river
I want to explore whether those who have access to the main river that
hosts hydroelectric generating stations for Mighty River Power (i.e.
Waikato river) have varied attitudes to their rights to water due to the
recent plans to sell shares of the Mighty River Power company.
I want to explore whether processes of procedural justice and issues
around perceived efficacy have an effect on the value that the
participants place on the river resource.
I hypothesise that those whose attitudes towards the
environment are aligned with sustainability and
conscientious consumption of water will also display
I hypothesise that those same individuals will also rate that
they perceive higher efficacy with regards to sustainability
of river water in the survey will also rate their consumption
of water as low i.e. probability their participation will affect
collective outcomes will be rated as high
I hypothesise that those who reside in the Waikato area
will feel more strongly about their right to access the river
than the other participants.
30 interviews will be conducted over a period of about 3 months
20 participants will be chosen using a non-probability sampling method in order to
ensure that I can obtain those who live in a region that has access to a river.
10 participants will be recruited from the Waikato region (located near the Waikato
10 participants will be recruited from an area with access to the Mahurangi river in the
The remaining 10 participants for study 1 will be sampled from a region of New
Zealand that has no access to any river and will act as a „control group‟
Qualitative semi-structured interviews over a period of 3 months
All of the interviews will be recorded (with consent from the participants)
(Part 2) Value of common pool resources: General attitudes towards river resources:
2. How important are the rivers for communities?
5. What do you think about the state of the fresh water sources in New Zealand? (e. g. Rivers
(Part 3) Procedural justice: Attitudes towards
12. Would you say that the future of the Waikato River is secure? Is it fair that the government is
selling share of Mighty River Power?
13. How do you think the Mighty River Power sale is going to affect you and your
Do you personally believe that personal efficacy
has an effect on your behaviour as a sustainable
What are some of the other elements involved in
the development of attitudes towards „commonpool resources‟?
Do you think that this is something that should be
tackled through qualitative or quantitative
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