Working Paper No 3 - Struggling for land access: The success and failure of social movement actors’ framing strategies in conflicts over large-scale land transformations
Louisa Prause – 2016
Struggles over meaning construction are an essential part of conflicts over large-scale land transformations. To advance the land access claims of local communities, social movement actors engage in specific framing strategies to mobilize resources and support. This article explores how the discursive context shapes the success or failure of social movement actors’ framing strategies in conflicts over large-scale mining and agro-industrial projects. Discursive opportunity structures (DOS) and framing are the key theoretical concepts used. I argue that the outcomes of framing strategies can only be understood when we combine DOS with a thorough analysis of social movement actors’ ability to act on the opportunities provided by discursive structures. Empirically, the study compares conflicts over gold mining and agro-industry in Senegal. Some elements of the discursive structures differ depending on the purpose of the large-scale land transformation in question and as such provide distinct opportunities for social movement actors. Other elements of the discursive structure are tied to large-scale land transformations in general. As the empirical analysis shows, not all social movement actors can use these opportunities in the same way. The article contributes to our understanding of the importance of discourses and framing strategies in conflicts over large-scale land transformations. Conceptually, I explore the strengths and weaknesses of a theoretical framework combining DOS and framing.