Environmentalism has perhaps been the most recent "ism" added to the long list of existing ideological territories. Sociologists of environmental ideology have uncovered an exhaustive variety of different approaches.1 Some have found a predominantly conservative bias,2 others the seeds of a new progressive theoretical force.3 Environmental ideas appear liable to be used both to challenge and to legitimate authority.4 Apart from these attempts to describe and to categorize environmental ideologies, little effort appears to have been made to analyze the development of individual strands of thought in their historical and political context and furthermore to evaluate their validity as theories of social change in their own right. An attempt in such a direction will be made in this paper with a study of the development of "eco-socialist" theories in West Germany. This is an extended and revised version of a paper presented at the CSE Conference in Sheffield, 9–11 July 1983. I am grateful to the participants of the session as well as Dr. Kenneth Green and Dr. Jonathon Harwood for a number of helpful comments. I particularly wish to thank Margaret O'Donovan for her invaluable editorial advice.
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