New Climate Activism between Politics and Law: Analyzing the Strategy of the KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

New Climate Activism between Politics and Law: Analyzing the Strategy of the KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz


  • Seline Keller Independent Researcher, Switzerland
  • Basil Bornemann Sustainability Research Group, Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland


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Abstract:  Since 2016, a group of senior women organized in the association KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz have been trying to legally force the Swiss government to take stronger climate protection measures. Parallel to the pursuit of a climate lawsuit, the KlimaSeniorinnen have developed into a growing social movement that is present in the media and participates in the public debate on climate change. Building on this specific climate litigation case, the present article analyzes the strategy formation of new actors in the field of climate governance. Based on existing concepts of social movement research, the strategy formation of the KlimaSeniorinnen is reconstructed in terms of a strategic actor who pursues certain strategic orientations in given strategic contexts. The empirical analysis of the strategic context (by means of opportunity structures), the strategic orientations (via collective action frames), and the strategic actor (by means of interviews) shows a double strategy. On the one hand, the KlimaSeniorinnen attempt to address a specific legal opportunity structure with an ‘injustice frame,’ which emphasizes human rights and the special vulnerability of older women to intense heat waves. On the other hand, they want to mobilize public support for an ambitious climate policy by additionally promoting a ‘grandchildren frame,’ which articulates altruistic values, such as responsibility towards future generations. Based on this analysis, both practical implications and consequences for future research on a new climate politics, which is increasingly taking shape between and across different arenas, are discussed.

Keywords:  climate activism; climate litigation; climate movement; KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz; new climate politics; strategy; Switzerland

Published:   28 April 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i2.3819


© Seline Keller, Basil Bornemann. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.