In 1993, the sociologist Hilary Tovey made a distinction between what she described as “official” environmentalism and “populist” environmentalism emerging at the time in Ireland.
Official environmentalism was predominantly urban-based and consisted of NGOs and professional experts (including academics) whose principal concerns were heritage and conservation.
Official environmentalism was notably quiet on the social and environmental implications of these new industrial developments, focusing instead on the “blight” of one-off housing in rural Ireland and conservation of the countryside.
Populist environmentalism defends livelihoods, community and local control over resources and place.
Crossing the urban/rural divide, the water charges protests, largely based in urban areas, expressed something similar.