Labour History Review

Green Volunteers in Czechoslovakia: The Youth Magazine Mladý svět and its Environmental Campaign, 1970s-1980s

Labour History Review (2021), 86, (3), 397–423.

Abstract

Concern with environmental degradation was one factor contributing to the discontent preceding the revolutions of 1989 in East-Central Europe. This article identifies the trajectories of environmental activism in Czechoslovakia, one of the most industrialized countries of the post-1945 socialist bloc. Analysing the media representation of environmental volunteers during late socialism, the examination focuses on the youth magazine Mladý svět, which prominently discussed environmental issues and became home to the Brontosaurus youth movement. During the so-called ‘normalization’ era of the 1970s and 1980s, which is often characterized as a time of stagnation, this movement for environmental volunteering provided young people with opportunities for self-realization and alternative lifestyles. While the movement shared several features of the New Social Movements of the 1970s, Czechoslovak green volunteerism took an ambivalent position within formal socialist youth structures, shedding light on the complex relationship between what is considered ‘alternative’ or ‘oppositional’ in late socialism.

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Author details

Wedl, Alexandra