Ph.D. Dissertation

David A. Sonnenfeld, Ph.D.

Dept. of Environmental Studies

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF)



Greening the Tiger? Social Movements’ Influence on Adoption of Environmental Technologies in the Pulp and Paper Industries of Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand


Few industries have grown so fast, or been so conflictual, as the pulp and paper industries of Australia, Indonesia and Thailand in the late 1980s and early 1990s. High-profile disputes flared in all three countries over social and environmental impacts of pulp mill development. By the mid-1990s, manufacturers in all three countries were adopting cleaner production technologies. Do these developments indicate the successful "greening" of these industries, including in newly industrializing countries not known for stringent environmental regulation? What is the relationship between environmental and community activism and pulp firms’ adoption of "green" technologies in these countries? I sought answers to these questions in 12 months’ field research, interviews, and archival study in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand; correspondence with individuals and organizations in Finland and Sweden; additional studies in North America; and use of available data. I found that local activists had successfully influenced government regulation of new and existing industry, and encouraged industry adoption of cleaner, elementally chlorine-free (ECF), pulping and bleaching technologies in Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Initially resistant to change, leading pulp manufacturing firms in these countries modified existing processing, adopted new technologies, produced more efficiently, and gained access to new ("green") markets. Globally, Greenpeace played a crucial role in encouraging development and adoption of the new technologies. This study extends scholarship on the social construction of technology by addressing environmental technology, Southeast Asia and Australia, the pulp and paper industry, social activism, North-South trade relations, and ethnic conflict.


pulp and paper industry, pollution, chlorine, dioxin, environmental protest, environmental regulation, environmental innovation, NGOs, Greenpeace, women, consumers, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Australia, Finland, Sweden


September 1996


Professors Andrew Szasz (chair), Paul Lubeck, James O’Connor, Sociology Graduate Program, University of California, Santa Cruz


The Australian-American Educational Foundation (Fulbright Commission); Switzer Foundation; Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University; the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation; Division of Social Sciences and Sociology Graduate Program, University of California, Santa Cruz




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