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Strategies and Actions in Swedish Mining Resistance: Mapping Anti-Extraction Movements and Exploring How Their Interpretations of Socio-Political Context Shape Mobilization Against Mining Projects
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8529-3863
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Strategier och agerande i svenskt gruvmotstånd : En kartläggning av motståndsrörelser och hur deras tolkningar av socio-politisk kontext formar mobilisering mot gruvprojekt (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Across the world, the demand for minerals is steadily increasing. In Europe, the push for mining coincides with rising public mobilization against extraction projects, and mining-related conflicts will likely be a feature of Europe’s foreseeable future. To understand the trajectories of mining conflicts, and to find just ways of handling them, it is important to understand the strategies and actions of the networks of actors that oppose extraction projects, that is, anti-extraction movements. 

While previous research has primarily explored mining resistance in the Global South, our knowledge about mining resistance in Europe is lacking. I contribute to filling this gap by investigating anti-extraction movements in Sweden, a long-term producer of minerals. The aim of the thesis is thus to explore what strategies and actions anti-extraction movements in Sweden use and how and why they choose them. I use social movement theory and emphasize how choices of strategies and actions are shaped by the socio-political context in which movements are embedded. With the help of frame analysis and an interpretive research approach, I explore how movement actors’ interpretations of contextual opportunities and constraints shape their actions, thus contributing to the ongoing research debate about how surrounding societal actors and institutions influence movement agency. 

In four papers, building on an extensive document analysis and interviews with movement actors, I systematically map and analyse anti-extraction movements in Sweden and provide in-depth studies of selected cases. I ask two research questions: 1. What anti-extraction movements are there in Sweden, in what socio-political contexts are they embedded, and what actions have they taken? 2. How do anti-extraction movements’ goals and interpretations of contextual opportunities and constraints shape their strategies and actions?

The thesis presents the first comprehensive mapping of anti-extraction movements in Sweden and shows that mining resistance has increased across Sweden during the last two decades. My results reveal that movements use a wide range of actions, from civil disobedience and public demonstrations to litigation and political lobbying, and are composed of heterogeneous mixes of actors, including newly formed activist networks, organizations for farmers and Indigenous Sámi, and environmental organizations. Movements promote several visions for societal development, including environmental protection and sustainability, Sámi Indigenous rights and culture, and landowners’ rights and agriculture. In international comparison, the Swedish anti-extraction movements to a larger extent aim to influence political and legal actors and place less emphasis on project owners and corporate investors. 

Regarding how socio-political context shapes strategies and actions, my results indicate that movement actors’ interpretations of contextual opportunities do not always align with researchers’ understandings of what an opportunity is, thus producing unexpected actions. Movement actors’ interpretations of opportunities and constraints are found to be influenced by their goals, their comparisons of available options, their previous experiences, and their role in relation to other actors in the movement. 

My research shows that socio-political context often influences movement actors’ strategies and actions via their interpretations of opportunities and constraints for achieving goals. My results also suggest that socio-political context shapes movement actors’ strategies and actions by presenting them with appropriate ways to act in society. Lastly, my studies indicate that additional factors, including movement actors’ action traditions and identities, resources, and the diffusion of strategies, can influence movement actors’ interpretations of contextual opportunities and strategies and actions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2024.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords [en]
social movement strategy, tactics, structure and agency, opportunities and constraints, goals, mining, frame analysis
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-105132ISBN: 978-91-8048-538-8 (print)ISBN: 978-91-8048-539-5 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-105132DiVA, id: diva2:1852071
Public defence
2024-06-13, A109, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-04-17 Created: 2024-04-16 Last updated: 2024-05-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. What to do when the mining company comes to town? Mapping actions of anti-extraction movements in Sweden, 2009–2019
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What to do when the mining company comes to town? Mapping actions of anti-extraction movements in Sweden, 2009–2019
2022 (English)In: Resources policy, ISSN 0301-4207, E-ISSN 1873-7641, Vol. 75, article id 102514Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research on the actions of anti-extraction movements has primarily comprised single-case studies in developing countries. Despite increasing mobilization and policy objectives to increase mineral extraction in the EU, we have little systematic knowledge of forms of resistance in a European setting. This paper exhaustively and comparatively maps anti-extraction movements in Sweden and investigates how movements' actions relate to their socio-political contexts. Sixteen place-specific movements are identified and studied using frame analysis and political process theory. The results suggest that anti-extraction movements occur across Sweden and that their socio-political contexts differ in access to indigenous rights institutions, project owner engagement, and support/opposition from host municipalities and national interest groups. The frame analysis indicates that movements share several goals, sometimes interpret similar contexts differently, and that differences in actions reflect differences in interpretations of contextual opportunities. Our results show that anti-extraction movements in Sweden involve diverse actors, including environmental interest groups, new networks mobilizing against extraction projects, indigenous Sami organizations, farmers' organizations, and landowners. Broad repertoires of actions, including civil disobedience, are used to influence the public, permitting processes, political actors at various scales, and project owners. Differences in socio-political contexts often align with movements’ interpretations of opportunities and relate with differences in action choices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2022
Keywords
Social movement, Mining, Conflict, Political process theory, Frame analysis, Repertoires of contention
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-88624 (URN)10.1016/j.resourpol.2021.102514 (DOI)000748009600002 ()2-s2.0-85121419370 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-01599
Note

Validerad;2022;Nivå 2;2022-01-01 (johcin)

Available from: 2021-12-30 Created: 2021-12-30 Last updated: 2024-04-16Bibliographically approved
2. Banging on Closed Doors or Beating the Drum? Social Movements’ Interpretations of Opportunities in Legal Appeal Processes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Banging on Closed Doors or Beating the Drum? Social Movements’ Interpretations of Opportunities in Legal Appeal Processes
2023 (English)In: Social Movement Studies, ISSN 1474-2837, E-ISSN 1474-2829Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Social movements and interest groups in Europe are increasingly using litigation as a form of legal mobilization in their campaigns. Current literature often depicts this as a result of favourable opportunities in movements’ legal contexts, with activists responding to rising prospects of legal success. This comparative study of fifteen cases of mobilizations against mineral exploration projects in Sweden explores a puzzle in relation to this view: Why do movements frequently litigate even when the prospects of legal success seem non-existent? Using frame analysis within a multi-institutional politics (MIP) approach, this study explores how movements interpret opportunities in appeal processes linked to mineral exploration projects. While confirming that the prospect of legal success is a relevant motivator in several cases, the results also indicate that some movements interpret the court as a democratic arena, presenting opportunities to mobilize adherents and signal popular resistance to policy makers and extractive companies. These diverging interpretations of the court are tentatively connected to organizational needs for mobilizing adherents, previous experiences of litigating and available institutional logics in society. Building upon the MIP approach, this study introduces the idea that the democratic understanding of the appeal process signifies a ‘creative infringement’. A democratic institutional logic is imported into the court, an arena typically dominated by an institutional legal-bureaucratic logic. Movements’ increasing use of litigation may thus be driven not only by goals of legal success, but also by creative reinterpretations of legal processes as arenas in which goals of popular participation and democracy may be achieved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2023
Keywords
Social movement strategy, structure and agency, frame analysis, multi-institutional politics, legal mobilization, creative infringement
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-95558 (URN)10.1080/14742837.2023.2171386 (DOI)2-s2.0-85147718425 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2023-02-08 Created: 2023-02-08 Last updated: 2024-04-16
3. Understanding Diversification of Strategies and Actions in Swedish Mining Resistance – The Fanning-Out Effect of Goals and Contextual Opportunities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding Diversification of Strategies and Actions in Swedish Mining Resistance – The Fanning-Out Effect of Goals and Contextual Opportunities
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Europe is witnessing increasing protests against mining. Social movements mobilizing against mining, (i.e. anti-extraction movements) are typically heterogeneous actor networks using diverse actions to stop projects and promote alternative visions for societal development. I investigate two prominent anti-extraction movements in Sweden and explore how movement actors’ goals and interpretations of contextual opportunities shape their strategies and actions. I study actions over eleven years and use frame analysis to explore actors’ goals, interpretations, and strategies. Results show how diverse goals lead to action diversification in movements by prompting actors to relate to different policy areas, that is, issue-specific contexts. Actors’ previous experiences, informing retrospective reasoning, increased variation in their opportunity assessments. The study contributes to social movement theory by explicating how the content of goals shape strategies and actions, adding to such alternative explanations as traditions, diffusion, and resources. Understanding action diversification is important for handling increasing mining conflicts. 

Keywords
social movement strategy; tactics; mining resistance; frame analysis; goals; issue-specific opportunities
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-105130 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-01599
Available from: 2024-04-16 Created: 2024-04-16 Last updated: 2024-04-16
4. Division of Labour in Swedish Mining Resistance: The Interplay between Legal Mobilization and Public Protests in Social Movements
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Division of Labour in Swedish Mining Resistance: The Interplay between Legal Mobilization and Public Protests in Social Movements
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

More knowledge is needed about how the design and implementation of legal processes shape the strategies and actions of social movements. We explore how movement actors’ interpretations of opportunities and constraints within legal processes shape their choices of strategies and actions. We particularly investigate how actors’ interpretations relate to their access to legal processes (i.e. legal standing) and to their understanding of opportunities in alternative action arenas in society, such as policy-making processes and street protests. We investigate an anti-extraction movement and its mobilization against a mining project in northern Sweden over eleven years. Using social movement theory and frame analysis, we explore the interpretations, strategies, and actions of movement actors who have or lack legal standing within the project’s permit process (i.e. legal insiders or outsiders). Key results indicate that action choices are shaped by how movement actors understand their opportunities in different societal arenas and by their traditions and interpretations of appropriate roles amongst other actors in the movement. To understand how legal standing shapes actions, we must acknowledge that actions are shaped by both a logic of consequences and a logic of appropriateness. Results also indicate that insiders’ legal engagement did not diminish outsiders’ use of public protests. On the contrary, outsiders’ motivation to use protests increased via a division of labour emerging in the movement, with actors specializing into either legal mobilization or protests. Integration of some movement actors into legal processes may not lead to a phasing out of protests in the growing resistance against mining in Europe.

Keywords
social movement strategy; tactics; legal mobilization; mining; protest; logic of appropriateness
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-105131 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-01599
Available from: 2024-04-16 Created: 2024-04-16 Last updated: 2024-04-16

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