Social Movements Contesting Natural Resource Development

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Natural resource based rural development under the dominant neoliberal paradigm takes multiple forms: dams, mines, forestry projects, pipelines, oil and gas drilling, fracking. At the same time agricultural land conversions stimulated by globalizing agricultural commodity markets and free trade agreements lead to land grabbing and rural dislocations.  All these developmental initiatives put economic valuations foremost while social and environmental values are given limited consideration.  But resistance is common. Large projects have been blocked and food movements have created resistance to globalizing agricultural systems.  This session asks under what conditions rural social movements prove to be more or less successful in defending environmental and social values in the face of the diverse range of natural resource development initiatives.  

Papers are invited which explore questions concerning rural social movement strategies and effects in relation to natural resource development.  Topics may include movement organization, forms of resource mobilization, strategic repertoires and framing processes. Papers might ask under what conditions are social movements most effective?  What conditions influence the level of mobilization? What strategies are employed? When social movements are effectively marginalized how is this marginalization achieved?  If marginalization is overcome how is it overcome?    How is the effectiveness of social movements conditional upon characteristics of the political regime and contextual political opportunities?  What sorts of alliances arise? What articulations of local and global movements can be found? What is the role of discursive framing in creating the parameters of contestation? Under what conditions are project designs modified or abandoned as a result of social movement resistance?

Preference will be given to papers which attempt to answer some of these questions through detailed case or comparative case studies.  Case studies from the global South are particularly encouraged.  The session will be primarily focused on discussion of potential generalizations and fruitful directions for a continuing research program on the comparative politics of rural social movements and natural resource development.

This session is being organized by John Devlin (University of Guelph | for the International Rural Sociology Congress 2016, which will take place August 10-14, 2016 in Toronto. 


Paper Proposals

Deadline for paper proposals: November 1, 2015

Announcement of accepted papers: January 15, 2016

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