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Environmental Activism and Big Data: Building Green Social Capital in China

by 1,* and 2,*
Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Department of Physics, The Hong Kong university of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong 87P8+H5, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3386;
Received: 6 January 2020 / Revised: 18 March 2020 / Accepted: 14 April 2020 / Published: 21 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Change Agency in Sustainability Transitions)
The rapid development of information and communication technologies, coupled with the significant progress in the areas of environmental policy and public participation, has led to the advent of environmental big data in China recently. This article applies social capital theory as an analytical lens to shed light on how Chinese environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) adopt big data to promote environmental governance. This study conducts case studies focusing on two ENGOs: The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Green Hunan. Combining a qualitative approach with quantitative analysis, this research examines two big data-induced initiatives: The first involves green supply chain management in the IPE, brand-sensitive multinational corporations (MNCs), and Chinese suppliers of the MNCs, while the second involves the mobile data-based Riverwatcher Action Network of Green Hunan and numerous volunteers nationwide. This study found that big data adoption by ENGOs contributes effectively to building green social capital, including social networks and pro-environmental social norms. Green social capital has important implications for governance in terms of fostering coordination and cooperation across the boundaries of the public, private, and voluntary sectors. This study highlighted the finding that empowerment by big data helps Chinese ENGOs play the role of a change agent in sustainability transitions. View Full-Text
Keywords: big data; environmental NGOs; social capital; China big data; environmental NGOs; social capital; China
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MDPI and ACS Style

Xu, J.; Zhang, H. Environmental Activism and Big Data: Building Green Social Capital in China. Sustainability 2020, 12, 3386.

AMA Style

Xu J, Zhang H. Environmental Activism and Big Data: Building Green Social Capital in China. Sustainability. 2020; 12(8):3386.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Xu, Jing, and Huijun Zhang. 2020. "Environmental Activism and Big Data: Building Green Social Capital in China" Sustainability 12, no. 8: 3386.

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