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Explaining Ups and Downs in the Public’s Environmental Concern in Sweden: The Effects of Ecological Modernization, the Economy, and the Media.

Journal article
Authors Niklas Harring
Sverker C. Jagers
Johan Martinsson
Published in Organization & Environment
Pages 1-16
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1-16
Language en
Keywords environmental concern, environmental public opinion, ecological modernization, agenda setting, economic development, media effects
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


In this article, the authors search for explanations to ups and downs in the Swedish public’s environmental concern since the 1980s. In line with previous research, this study examines the effects of economic cycles and media coverage. In addition, the authors hypothesize that the economy will affect environmental concern less over time because of the entry of ecological modernization into elite discourse. Using time series regression analysis and a unique data set, we study Swedish public opinion during more than 20 years. Economic cycles affect the public’s environmental concern but to a diminishing degree. Public environmental concern is also affected by the amount of media coverage. In accordance with earlier observations, it is concluded that both the economy and media content have an independent effect on public environmental concern. However, the previously observed conflict between economic cycles and public environmental concern is weakened, potentially because of the elite group embracement of an ecological modernization discourse.

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