Humanity & Society, November 2016, Vol.40(4), pp.379-400
How can the average person influence environmental policy making? To answer this question, we draw on 21 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with environmental activists, lobbyists, and legislative staff members at the state level. In addition, we supplement our data with field notes at lobby days and legislative hearings as well as 22 interviews with state capital interns. We find that public feedback (e-mails, letters, phone calls, and lobby days) focuses attention on environmental bills and turns them into public issues. We discuss the rare conditions under which e-mail advocacy is modestly effective and also detail the continued importance of personalized communication in interactive lobbying by phone and in person. Environmental activists strategically deploy moderate identities (i.e., concerned parent) in order to transform public issues into personal stories that legitimize their concerns, depoliticize problems, and establish connections with legislators. Personal stories, in turn, benefit from a logical fallacy or the assumption that vocal constituents likely represent concerns shared by additional community members. This interpretation has the potential to convert individualized problems back into public issues with policy solutions.
Lobbying ; E-Mail Activism ; Avoiding Politics ; Persuasion ; Climate Change ; Sociology & Social History
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