A sociological study of the causes of participation in environmental non governmental organizations in Tehran: presentation grounded theories

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad university, Tehran, Iran

2 Faculty of Humanity and Social Sciences, Mazandaran University, Sari, Iran

3 School of Social Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Garmsar Branch, Garmsar, Iran

4 School of Social Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Adapting to climate change and changing energy-related behaviors to reduce global warming is
a necessity in today's societies that would not be possible without the full participation of people and groups,
including environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The numerous environmental problems and
the difficulty of urban management in major cities such as Tehran make the need for these organizations more
expansive, as the development of environmental NGOs will lead to increased participation and decisionmaking
in the field of environment. In this regard, understanding the reasons and motivations of individuals
for participation in NGOs as the main objective of the present study can lead to the development of such
organizations to achieve sustainable development. Previous research in this area has been very few and often
with a quantitative approach.
Material and methods: The approach of this study was interpretation and was done using the grounded theory.
Participants were selected based on a purposive sampling of snowball type from 20 members of environmental
NGOs in Tehran in the year 2018_19. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analyzed using
open, axial, and selective coding steps. The concepts were transformed into subcategories and categories and the paradigm model was extracted in four parts: causal conditions, confounding conditions, strategies, and consequences that revolve around the central phenomenon.
Results and discussion: The data analysis showed that causal conditions affecting members' motivation to participate in environmental NGOs were based on personal reasons (e.g., sensory and naturalistic experiences, field of study, and transcendental attitudes), interest in environmental activities, and acquisition of dignity. Also, the influential intervening conditions include structural constraints (environmental fragility, lack of context for civic activities, etc.), intrinsic environmental value, and neighborhood (natural habitat and occupational proximity). In addition, the results of the study showed that the strategies adopted by the executants in the short and long term were symbolic activities, criticism, member empowerment, expert recruitment, scientific approach to programs, consulting with planners, networking relationships, interaction, and collective wisdom. Finally, the results of the present study showed that the consequences of adopting these strategies were horizontal and vertical impact, scientific exchange, executive management, and qualitative and quantitative development.
Conclusion: The main motivation of the members to participate in environmental NGOs is environmental concerns. To achieve this, members are interested in establishing or joining an NGO to develop inter-group and intra-group relationships so that they can provide the necessary framework for changing behaviors and reducing or solving environmental problems. In addition, studying the reasons and motivations of members to participate in environmental NGOs can provide mechanisms for attracting others to develop and expand these organizations.

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