October 17, 2008

Collective Action and Citizen Environmental Behavior


Dr. Mark Lubell, Associate Professor, Environmental Science & Policy, UC Davis


This paper expands the relevance of the collective interest model of mass political action to explain collective-action behavior in the context of global warming, climate change, and other environmental problems. The analysis is an attempt to answer Ostrom’s call for a behavioral model of collective action that can be generalized beyond political protest to other collective-action problems. We elaborate, specify, and empirically test a collective interest model approach to citizen policy support, environmental political participation, and environmental behavior related to environmental issues. Key elements of the collective interest model—perceived risk, personal efficacy, and environmental values—are found to be directly, and positively, related to support of government policies and personal behaviors that affect environmental problems. We also discuss the links between the collective interest model and other important approaches to political behavior.

Biographical Sketch

Mark Lubell is an Associate Professor of environmental policy in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis.  Lubell received his Doctorate in Political Science in 1999 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Lubell’s research focuses on cooperation in natural resource management and environmental policy.   Research topics to date have included watershed management, environmental activism, agricultural best management practices, and local government policy.  These studies have been published in leading political science and policy journals such as American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Environment and Behavior, and Environmental Management. Lubell is also a co-author on Swimming Upstream: Collaborative Approaches to Watershed Management.