Over the past two decades, the landscape of political theory has been transformed by the ecological challenge. A growing number of political theorists have chosen to engage systematically with the moral, political and institutional challenges raised by the environmental agenda. This specialised engagement has seen the emergence of green political theory (or environmental political theory, as it is known in North America) as a distinct sub-field of political theory. At the same time, many ‘mainstream’ political theorists have found it increasingly difficult to quarantine their enquiry from the various challenges raised by this new sub-discipline and by ecological problems in general. This book seeks to draw together the threads of this interconnecting enquiry and to assess its status and meaning.
The encounter between mainstream and ‘green’ theory has taken two principal forms. First, there has been a discussion and analysis of the role of environmental politics in the context of modern political ideologies. Thus there have been reflections on (for example) the relationship between liberalism, conservatism, socialism, feminism and the environment – sometimes organised around a debate as to whether ‘ecologism’ is parasitic on other ideologies or whether it is an ideology in its own right, and sometimes in terms of potential compatibilities between ‘green’ ideology and other ideologies. There are now very few textbooks on political ideologies that do not contain a chapter on ecologism (usually the last chapter – the position formerly occupied by feminism).