Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Sociology (Rural and Environmental Change Option)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Kathy J. Kuipers

Commitee Members

Dr. Scott McNall, Dr. Neva Hassanein, Dr. Teresa Sobieszczyk


Activism, Age, Climate Change, Collective Action, Framing, Gender


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Civic and Community Engagement | Gender and Sexuality | Place and Environment | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Climate activists urgently emphasize action to prevent catastrophic and apocalyptic-like damage from climate change. The foundation of the institutional change needed to combat climate change is collective action, which I study here through a collective action frame. These frames can gain traction for policy agendas: they are solution- and action-oriented. I interviewed women climate activists to understand how they frame the problems from, causes of, and solutions to climate change, as well as how they urge others to act against climate change. I compared my informants based on age because beliefs, values, and lived experiences are important in how activists approach problems, and I expected that collective action frames would differ by generation. I conducted 20 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with ten activists who were 18 to 36 years old (younger cohort) and ten activists who were 55 years and older (older cohort). The cohorts disagreed on what were the greatest impacts of climate change. The younger cohort’s top concern was the social destabilization that will result from climate change, whereas the older cohort believed it was the exacerbation of inequalities. The cohorts also disagreed on the best ways to incite climate action. The younger cohort argued the best strategy was to find common ground with people while the older group believed the best strategy was to empower people. Both cohorts agreed that the root cause of climate change was the industrial revolution and the ideologies that it perpetuated. Both cohorts also agreed that the main solution for climate change would be an ideological revolution that must be achieved by reconnecting with others. I found that both cohorts agreed that solving climate change could happen only when we come together and not apart. Combatting climate change should be based on a collective understanding of the ways in which humans are inextricably interconnected.



© Copyright 2020 Sara A. Humphers-Ginther