Motivation for Environmental Direct Action in the Czech Republic: The Case of the 2011 Blockade at the Šumava National Park

Vojtěch Pelikán, Hana Librová


This article is a case study of the most significant Czech environmental direct-action over the past few years – the blockade that was to stop the logging taking place in a wilderness zone of the Šumava National Park in the summer 2011. The empirical findings draw on two surveys that were carried out among the blockade participants more than a year apart. The article focuses on the participants’ motivation. The types of motivation are analyzed by the three types of motivation categories as they are formulated in normative ethics: teleological, deontological, and virtue ethics. Results are interpreted within the context of normative ethics and of theories dealing with the dynamics of contention. The theoretical premise is that different types of motivation for environmentally-oriented behaviour contain different levels of expectations, and through these expectations they carry different levels of the potential for disappointment and resignation. Despite the fact that the blockade did not stop the logging – and so in fact could be seen as a failure – the respondents did not express disappointment. On the contrary, their attitudes showed a strikingly unified resistance and determination to participate in the blockade again. The analysis of the responses reveals why this could be so: the participants’ motivation is not directly linked to protecting the Šumava landscape, it is not of the teleological type that contains specific expectations. It is largely inspired by virtue ethics, by a civic mind-set that strives for personal integrity, does not contain high expectations in terms of external changes, and is resistant to fatigue.

Klíčová slova

environmental movements; ethical motivations; Šumava National Park; direct action; potential for disappointment

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