Promotion of contentious agency as a rewarding movement strategy: evidence from the MST-paper industry conflicts in Brazil

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The recent scholarship on social movement outcomes has called for explanations
about how movements influence economic outcomes. This article demonstrates in
practice how a dynamic and relational approach, coupled with a Bourdieuian
analysis of social, symbolic, and territorial space, can be utilized in explaining the
influence of movements in contentious politics around investment projects. Based
on participant observation and comparison across the Brazilian Landless
Movement (MST) groups in areas of paper industry expansion, I assess the
different movement strategies and their influence on pulp project outcomes. I
reinterpret the ideal ‘MST model’ as constructed by specific strategies promoting
contentious agency: organizing and politicizing, campaigning by heterodox
framing, protesting, networking, and embedded autonomy vis-a-vis the state. A
Qualitative Comparative Analysis comparing the expansion of 13 pulp holdings
between 2004–2008 shows how these strategies influence investment pace. When both contentious and conventional strategies were used, movements managed to slow pulpwood plantation expansion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Peasant Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)435-458
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 517 Political science

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