|Abstract or Summary
- Several distinctive environmental movements of the past century have had major influence on public policies in the United States. More generally, social movements that push environmental issues into the limelight have the potential for significantly altering public perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs, thus driving big policy changes. This thesis examines the Latvian environmental movement (1987-1990) that played a central role in mobilizing the Latvian people to turn against the Soviet Union’s control of Latvia and subsequently earn independence from the Soviet Union. The Latvian environmental movement took aim at the USSR’s policies that harmed Latvia’s treasured landscape and repressed the nature-centric roots of Latvian culture and nationalism. Yet, despite this initial national mobilization around environmental protection, and even with the presence of a powerful “Green” party coalition, the new Latvian national government has focused more on economic growth, infrastructure development, and other non-environmental policies since independence. The remnants of the national environmental movement instead are now found in scattered pockets of civic environmentalism, where local interests have taken up the mantle of environmental protection in the absence of strong government action. The primary intent of this thesis is to analyze, explore, and describe the Latvian environmental movement, and to document this change in Latvian environmentalism after the separation from the Soviet Union. This will be investigated by applying Weber’s (1999) comparative analytic framework for environmental movements to the Latvian case.