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Local resistance to extractivism: community mobilisation in the case of Chile

Smart Larrain, Juan Sebastian; (2019) Local resistance to extractivism: community mobilisation in the case of Chile. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This research aims to understand socio-environmental conflicts and mobilisations generated by extractive projects. Theoretically, this research locates itself within the contentious politics perspective. It seeks to understand socio-environmental conflicts taking into consideration the interaction between political opportunities, organisational resources and discursive frames developed by communities that oppose extractive projects. The study argues that socio-environmental conflicts are reproductions of power relations between companies, state and communities over territories and the environment. The environmental and political-economy transformations provoked by extractive projects allow the generation of discourses and frames about environment and community which usually end up in forms of direct mobilisation and protest. In line with recent developments in the social movements literature, I complement the understanding of social mobilisation by analysing the mechanism at work, i.e. the micro foundations of contentious politics, specifically analysing how the geographical location, phase of the project and constituents of the movement, shape the aims, means and capacities of communities that mobilise against extractive projects. As one of Latin America’s most institutionally stable countries, Chile represents the paradigmatic case for exploring the micro foundations of contentious politics that lies at the heart of this study. Precisely because of the economic and political stability and low levels of threats when compared to other countries in the region, and the historical economic and political dependence on extractivism, we should expect to find a strong case of social mobilisations. Thus, Chile offers an ideal, or ‘most likely’, case for evaluating patterns of mobilisation. More specifically, the exploratory aim of this work is to advance a broader theoretical argument about the distinctiveness of the socio-environmental movement, developed through the analysis of three social contestation pocesses in the country (Caimanes, No Alto Maipo and Chiloé). These are cases that offer variation in terms of geographical location, aims, means of mobilisation and resources; in other words, they offer a useful variation on the dimensions of theoretical interest for this thesis. The comparison of the empirical cases adds important subtleties and empirical evidence to complement classical theories of social mobilisation, such as the role of counter-mobilisation in closing political opportunities, and the role that territory and environment plays in generating resources and frames. The study also lays the groundwork for future extensions of this framework by briefly examining how well the main propositions work in explaining socio-environmental mobilisation in other Latin American countries.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Local resistance to extractivism: community mobilisation in the case of Chile
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068758
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