Justification, Values or Concerns? Pragmatist Theories of Morality and Civic Engagements in Local Urban Greenspaces

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Much scholarship on social movements builds on (American) pragmatist ground. However, Boltanski and Thévenot’s (French) pragmatist theory of justification has received less attention. The theory promises a way to bridge between American pragmatist social movement studies and theories about universal human values and repertoires of engagement, such as Shalom Schwartz’. Upon presenting and discussing the French theory of justification, the chapter sets out to assess its analytical usefulness in relation to a national survey on civic engagements in local urban greenspaces in Denmark. The survey questionnaire includes measures for each of the ‘justificatory regimes’ distinguished by the theory. However, contrary to expectations, the results indicate a strong tendency for all eight justificatory regimes to correlate positively. Moreover, an index combining the eight measures into one variable correlates strongly with civic engagement in local urban greenspaces. On this basis, it is suggested that the measures capture a more conventionally situated American pragmatist ‘concern’ for greenspaces. In conclusion, the theoretical as well as methodological implications of studying concerns rather than justifications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Power of Morality in Movements : Civic Engagement in Climate Justice, Human Rights, and Democracy
Number of pages23
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-98797-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-97798-5
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesNonprofit and Civil Society Studies


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