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Division of Labour in Swedish Mining Resistance: The Interplay between Legal Mobilization and Public Protests in Social Movements
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8529-3863
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6145-2252
(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 [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-105131OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-105131DiVA, id: diva2:1852063
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-01599Available from: 2024-04-16 Created: 2024-04-16 Last updated: 2024-06-28
In thesis
1. 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
Open this publication in new window or tab >>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
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Strategier och agerande i svenskt gruvmotstånd : En kartläggning av motståndsrörelser och hur deras tolkningar av socio-politisk kontext formar mobilisering mot gruvprojekt
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
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:nbn:se:ltu:diva-105132 (URN)978-91-8048-538-8 (ISBN)978-91-8048-539-5 (ISBN)
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

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Fjellborg, DanielBeland Lindahl, Karin

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