ABSTRACT

In this chapter, I generate a framework for analyzing when and how resistance can slow or reverse corporate resource exploitation, or secure other objectives of social movements. Sustained corporate strategies create capacity for corporate agency, and sustained mobilization strategies create capacity for contentious agency. Capacity is not enough, since one has still to have willingness to act, and act, believe that change is possible and desire it. The support given by the state to movements and corporations, and vice versa, is also important. The interaction of these three processes (corporate, contentious and state agency) forms the dynamics that explain natural resource politics. The state and civil society should be studied relationally, since focus on their relationship to other power networks offers a more flexible analytical tool than, for example, state-centered explanations, as Silva (2009) has demonstrated in his study on the occurrence and outcomes of anti-neoliberal mobilizations. In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act

independently and to make their own free choices (Giddens 1984). I suggest that the creation of particular social action, strategies, mechanisms and relations can foster human agency, the capacity of humans to act and to make choices, and get involved and participate in politics. Mechanisms are better understood as strategies in most cases, as they involve direct human intervention: I use “mechanism” and “strategy” as the same concept. Extending and going beyond the dynamics of contention (DOC) research program started by Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow and Charles Tilly (2001), who urge scholars to go beyond the structure/agency debate, I agree that what happens within political trajectories and conflicts can better be understood as the result of the intersection of a number of causal mechanisms. My major theoretical point is to show how such intersections create specific types of human agency. I use the concept of contentious agency to refer to contentious changing of

the social relations by social actors. The agency is contentious if it challenges the orthodox, accepted trajectory of development promoted by more powerful actors, that extend resource exploitation operations.1 Resource extraction is political action and cannot be extended by nature or “free markets” alone,

since they are always a sign of strong human intervention, that is, agency on the part of somebody. In order to analyze the strategies systematically, I utilize the partition

approach, which breaks processes into their constituent mechanisms. Besides disaggregation, the partition approach tackles one mechanism or strategy at a time, does it well, and then moves on to the next, “searching for interactions and interdependencies, concatenations and combinations, among the mechanisms” (Lichbach 2008: 348). Following this approach, I can muster evidence on the existence of strategies promoting contentious agency that is causally relevant to the slowing of or change in the style of resource exploitation. I seek to respond to the call by Lichbach (2008: 350) for accounts of how social systems emerge from causal processes of contention, how they solidify, and how they come to structure social, economic and political life. I assess how the social systems of the movements and the industry emerge, solidify and structure social, economic and political life while clashing in the contentious episodes occurring in the course of projects. Moreover, I consider the outcomes of these contentious episodes, pointing out the new processes set in motion by the expansion or slowing of resource extraction and focusing on the social movement aspect. To construct the right strategies and link them is essential as the instru-

ments of protest and means of contention “are not easy to establish when they are not already there, and they certainly require a good deal of initiative and acumen” (Drèze and Sen 2002: 369). Since development theorists Drèze and Sen do not analyze the strategies by which contentious agency can be promoted, I consider specific strategies of mobilization. McAdam et al. (2001: 37) also note the scarcity of the type of analysis provided here: “the classic approach to social movements concentrates on mobilization and demobilization; it provides relatively weak guides to explanation of action, actors, identities, trajectories, or outcomes.” I seek to provide heuristic tools to assess these issues. I build on multiple-mechanism, joint-effect outcome assessment, in which

outcomes are the fruit of many strategies. Multiple methods of measurement can produce a better representation of the phenomena studied than singlemethod research (McAdam et al. 2008). In his Freedom is a Constant Struggle, Kenneth Andrews (2004: 22) maintains that movements should engage in multiple means of influence to obtain the best outcomes. Marco Giugni identifies four interrelated variables that have influenced the outcomes of conflict involving social movements historically. These are movement organization and protest activities within changing political opportunity structure, and the impact of public opinion (Giugni 2004: 4). Combining ethnographic induction with deduction from Giugni, McAdam et al. (2001) and other social movement theorists’ proposals above, the active making of the first two variables I conceived as strategies denominated (a) (organizing and politicizing a movement) and (c) (protesting), respectively. The last two I combined into strategies (d) (networking with allies) and (e) (the embedded autonomy of

the movement vis-à-vis the state and targets), as well as into the analysis of the control process (corporate resource exploitation). Peter Evans (1995: 12) originally used the concept of embedded autonomy

to refer to a developmentalist state that embeds with the society (particularly industry) whilst maintaining autonomy, escaping capture by private interests but still listening to them. I extend and flip the concept here to analyze social movements and companies, arguing that effective groups are those that embed with the society and the state whilst maintaining autonomy. Even though autonomy cannot be expected when embedding with the state, I argue that this interaction has allowed the MST, for example, to manage to maintain considerable autonomy by distinct strategies, considering the level of embedding it has in relation to the state (as is done in Chapter 3). Besides utilizing the concept of embedded autonomy to assess the interaction of a movement with the state, I also use it to assess the interaction between corporations and the state. The embedded autonomy of corporations and movements explains a large part of the state-remediated dynamics between movements and corporations. The uniting of agents and structures into relational strategies allows one to

escape the theoretical dichotomy between “movements” and their “political opportunity structures,” for which there has been great demand (McAdam et al. 2001; Luders 2010; Tarrow 2011). To complement Giugni’s set of variables, I made them dynamic by focusing on the action in these, studying the action leading to the phenomena observed by Giugni as “variables” as formed by strategies. Going beyond variable-based research, I imbued particular qualities to strategies (a), (c), (d) and (e) and created a new strategy concept (not covered by Giugni’s variables): campaigning by heterodox framings (b), a cognitive mechanism creating targeted campaigns within the movement, among other things.2 By a systematic comparison of cases, I investigate whether there is a causal relation between contentious agency formed by a virtuous cycle between strategies a-e (see Figure 1.1) and resistance outcomes. Only action maintains movements: perhaps their most typical feature is

that they campaign and/or protest. For a social movement, the deepening virtuous cycle of contentious agency promotion envisioned in Figure 1.1 can ensure actions and support the advancement of their mobilization and agenda. The strategies come in a sequence: (b) follows from (a) (or quite often

(a) follows from (b), when a movement has not yet been established but is forming by dint of an initially rag-tag campaign on a specific issue), after which the movement can utilize (c), (d) or (e), or all of them. If a movement uses all of c-e, or some of them particularly well, this is more likely to foster further organizing, politicizing and campaigning than using only one of these strategies, the theory goes. In such a case, a loop, a virtuous cycle is created between the strategies. This cycle will maintain the contentious agency and make it grow. The territorial, social and symbolic space for independent

and heterodox movement action and choice is increased; that is, contentious agency can be promoted more efficiently. The disaggregation of the main process, contentious agency promotion, as

deriving from strategies a-e serves to assess what type of process is more prone to lead movements to attain their objectives. Without the disaggregation, this research would be able to say that movements matter or do not matter, but not exactly when and how. I will show that strategies a-e are best used in a particular sequence, and roughly simultaneously. They are techniques and phases of contentious agency promotion. At the base are strategies (a) and (b). Typically, only after these two phases have been completed can the social movement initiate further actions. A movement may utilize protests (c), networking (d), or embedding whilst retaining autonomy (e), or all of them to further its goals. It may also use direct dialogue and negotiation (f) with a company in private politics without state actor participation to negotiate about the style and pace of resource exploitation.3 However, I have not added strategy (f) to the virtuous cycle, as engagement in private politics has frequently led to diminishing contentious agency and radicalism. Strategy (f)

Figure 1.1 The virtuous cycle of contentious agency promoting strategies

(direct dialogue with a company) might even be mutually exclusive with some elements of a-e. The larger dynamics in which these strategies and their users are situated are bound to vary, but in their technical form the strategies that resistance can use and often uses in political endeavors are generalizable across contexts. Specific strategies creating a specific type of human agency, contentious

agency, foster the spread of contentious action through time and across space. Any social actor can utilize general contentious agency. What is contentious depends on the definer, the powerful and the level of definition. Thus, contentious agency could also be developed by state and multilateral institution actors, if these were to challenge contentiously the prevailing global orthodoxy to gain more space for their independent and heterodox decision making. For example, an international system-focusing analysis of contentious agency could focus on the challenge posed by the Bolivarian Allliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) to the capitalist world system. In this type of international-level analysis, one would consider how andwhether ALBA governments utilize particular strategies to create contentious agency in the world-system processes, and whether this challenge has resulted in attaining their desired goals, possibly including countering abusive resource exploitation and fostering discontent over this in the international system. A concatenation of strategies a-e provides strength for the resistance. The

activeness of the strategies, as well as their combination and interaction in the given context, determines the depth, pace and spatial transmission of resistance promotion. For example, if one takes protest acts away, the MST landless movement is more likely to gain less or no land in the political context of Brazil, which weakens its organizational base, the daily, politicized practices and campaigning by heterodox framing, as well as the networking and embedding strategies. Likewise, if the networking and embedding strategies deteriorate, the power of land occupation decreases: these might even be made constitutionally illegal because of the lack of embedding with the state apparatus.4 The daily, politicized practices and heterodox framing as well as organizing would be harmed by a weakness in the embedding strategy, as the movement would not obtain resources like school funding, and because the reduced autonomy would allow the dominant system to overrule the contentious movement strategies. If politicized practices or organizing strategies were curtailed, the embedded autonomy and protest would be harmed. The organizing and politicizing work forms a social movement organiza-

tion and is essential in fostering such things as interpersonal trust between members. Trust is a key element explaining the use of protests by movements: the more militant and dangerous a protest act, the deeper the required trust usually is (Benson and Rochon 2004). This finding applies across contexts and in both democratic and non-democratic states, with higher trust levels correlating with more protests (ibid.). Trust allows the intensity of participation to be raised, which means that a wider array of strategies becomes available: in this form, everything begins from the organizing grid of a movement.

However, protests also feed back into trust levels, since unified protesting binds participants together, and was the most efficient site of contentious agency creation for those interviewed. When mental processes are voiced they become stronger, and they become strongest by impact when made physical, i.e. in protesting by moving bodies and key objects from one place to another. In fact, a strong organizing strategy, which creates a strong organizational

base, is a necessary condition for developing and implementing ever more contentious, challenging and pioneering protest acts. Pioneering protests against resource exploitation also depend on the heterodox framings of a project as a principal enemy of genuinely sustainable development. The ideological strategizing work done by leaders, converted into heterodox framings in campaigning, is a necessary condition of protesting. Networking and embedding whilst maintaining autonomy are not necessary conditions, but if these are not active, the expected outcomes of the protests for a movement are worse. The hypothesis suggests that if contentious agency is promoted, a process

starts by which the resistance can manage to impact resource exploitation. This happens either soon, or in the future when the process has created enough strength for the resistance in the dynamics with corporate agency in given political systems.