We present a theory of the basis of support for a social movement. Three types of support (citizenship actions, policy support and acceptance, and personal-sphere behaviors that accord with movement principles) are empirically distinct from each other and from committed activism. Drawing on theoretical work on values and norm-activation processes, we propose a value-belief-norm (VBN) theory of movement support. Individuals who accept a movement's basic values, believe that valued objects are threatened, and believe that their actions can help restore those values experience an obligation (personal norm) for pro-movement action that creates a predisposition to provide support; the particular type of support that results is dependent on the individual's capabilities and constraints. Data from a national survey of 420 respondents suggest that the VBN theory, when compared with other prevalent theories, offers the best available account of support for the environmental movement.
Human Ecology Review
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The Human Ecology Review is published by the Society for Human Ecology.
Stern, Paul C.; Dietz, Thomas; Abel, Troy D.; Guagnano, Gregory A.; and Kalof, Linda, "A Value-Belief-Norm Theory of Support for Social Movements: The Case of Environmentalism" (1999). Huxley College on the Peninsulas Publications. Paper 1.