Political opportunity and mobilization

The evolution of a Swedish mining-sceptical movement

Document identifier: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-76199
Access full text here:10.1016/j.resourpol.2019.101477
Keyword: Social Sciences, Political Science, Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies), Samhällsvetenskap, Statsvetenskap, Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier), Mining, Social movements, Conflict, National mineral policy, Political opportunity structures, Governance
Publication year: 2019
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutionsSDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
The SDG label(s) above have been assigned by OSDG.ai


As demand for minerals is expected to increase due to the energy transition needed to meet climate targets, mineral exploration will continue intensifying. Surveys find that public acceptance of the mining industry is low, particularly in the EU, suggesting that mining conflicts may increase in both number and intensity. Conflict usually occurs in places where a significant number of local actors mobilize resistance against a mining company. Their success is dependent on the emergence of a broader social movement that jumps to the relevant scale of regulation, often the national level. Despite this, very little attention is being paid to the emergence of such a movement, as well as to the state and its institutions, in studies on mining conflicts. Most research into mining conflicts examines developing countries, while mining resistance is an emerging issue also in developed nations, not least in the Arctic. Understanding mining resistance is important in avoiding or addressing conflicts that can be costly for companies, communities, and the state. This paper explores the relationship between state politics and mining resistance at the national level, drawing on social movement research and the concept of political opportunity structures. The results show that confrontational mining resistance will grow at the national level when the state offers little access nor influence to mining-sceptical actors in either policy formulation or implementation, and where there is a sufficient number of simultaneously ongoing contested licensing processes. In cases where indigenous people are involved, weak or contested indigenous rights may also spur resistance.


Anna Zachrisson

Department of Political Science, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
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Karin Beland Lindahl

Luleå tekniska universitet; Samhällsvetenskap
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