Li-Yin Liu

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Swedlow, Brendon

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Human ecology--Study and teaching; Public administration; Political science


The strategies of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and public perceptions of environmental activism in Taiwan are arguably crucial, yet understudied determinants, of types of environmental activism and of public support for environmental policies. Accordingly, this study sought answers to several important unasked questions in environmental governance and public opinion research: 1) How do ENGOs' decision makers decide what types of environmental activities to pursue? 2) What role does ENGOs' organizational culture play in their decision making? 3) How does the public perceive different types of environmental activism? And 4) How does culture influence these perceptions? To answer these questions, this study utilized cultural theory (CT) developed by Mary Douglas, Aaron Wildavsky, and others (Douglas and Wildavsky 1982; Schwarz and Thompson 1990; Thompson, Ellis, and Wildavsky 1990) to develop hypotheses to test data collected through two online surveys. The evidence confirms what CT predicted. First, ENGOs' decision making on environmental activism is neither affected by their organizational scale nor the effectiveness and acceptance of environmental activities. Instead ENGOs' organizational culture and their decision makers' cultural biases play a crucial role. At the individual level, decision makers/environmentalists who are egalitarians are more likely to initiate every type of environmental activity, especially protest based environmental activities, than people of other cultural types. At the organizational level, ENGOs that have egalitarian and individualistic organizational cultures are more likely to initiate every type of environmental activity, especially protest-based activities. Second, the mass public's cultural biases are helpful in explaining its perceptions of environmental information sources and different types of environmental activities. Specifically, as CT predicted, hierarchs tend to believe in people who have proper authority, such as environmentalists. Individualists tend to believe in information that may favor economic growth over environmental protection, such as economists. Moreover, egalitarians tended to consider protest-based environmental activities as effective and acceptable, while individualists tended to have negative thoughts about the effectiveness and acceptance of protest-based activities. This study found that CT also can be helpful in explaining environmental politics and policies, especially in countries, like Taiwan, where ideological lines and partisan differences on environmental issues are not clear. Moreover, compared to conventional partisan and ideological explanation, CT better explains the logic behind ENGOs' decision making and the sources of public perceptions of their activities.


Advisors: Brendon Swedlow.||Committee members: Yu-Che Chen; April K. Clark; Alicia M. Schatteman.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


xi, 167 pages




Northern Illinois University

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