Postmodern social theory has had little impact on studies of global environmental activism and politics, and has often been treated with suspicion. Yet, in this article, I argue that social science theories of both postmodernization and cultural modernization can provide insights into how globalizing processes have affected environmental politics. Where current perspectives on globalization and environmental politics tend to focus on globalization's homogenizing effects, postmodernization arguments suggest that globalization and postmodern social trends have given rise to hybrid, multicultural politics. In the environmental realm, these trends have challenged environmentalists whose claims are based on science and encouraged hybrid forms of environmental activism linking ecological issues to issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. To explore these shifts in environmental politics worldwide, I examine two categories of nonprofit environmental organizations: environmental science organizations and multicultural environmental organizations. Results of an event count analysis show that, for nations, public education predicts the establishment of environmental science organizations. Multicultural environmental organizations were established later, in the 1980s and onward, and tended to be established in countries with preexisting environmental science organizations. I argue that social science theories of cultural modernization and postmodernization can best explain these patterns.

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