The issue of climate change poses something of a puzzle. For all the attention accorded the issue, climate change/global warming has spawned surprisingly little grassroots activism in the contemporary United States. Drawing on social movement theory, the author seeks to explain this puzzle. The prevailing consensus among movement scholars is that the prospect for movement emergence is facilitated by the confluence of three factors: the expansion of political opportunities, the availability of mobilizing structures, and cognitive and affective mobilization through framing processes. The author then applies each of these factors to the case of climate change, arguing that () awareness of the issue developed during an especially inopportune period in American politics, () the organizations that arose to address the issue were ill suited to the kind of grassroots mobilization characteristic of successful movements, and () the amorphous nature of the issue played havoc with efforts at strategic framing.


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