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Mobilizing in the Mining Sector: a transnational comparison of on- and off-line repertoires of action

Dorothy Kidd
University of San Francisco CA USA
Caterina Fugazzola
Dorothy Kidd
University of San Francisco CA USA
Open Panel

Abstract

The intensification of exploitation of natural resources, and especially minerals, by transnational corporations has been one of the key dimensions of neo-liberal globalization. Western transnational corporations have been, until very recently, the primary actors, enabled by policies of privatization and deregulation by over seventy national governments, which have reduced foreign ownership restrictions and corporate taxes, increased low cost investment opportunities; and weakened labour, environmental and human rights regulations. However, China is fast emerging as a major player, utilizing a different model that supports domestic and foreign resource exploitation primarily through state-organized industries. Regardless of model, a growing resistance is building in China and across the globe from a swath of social actors, including workers and labour unions, local communities, aboriginal peoples, environmentalists, and human rights advocates. This paper compares the use of digital technologies among contending civil society actors in the domestic and multinational mining sectors operated by Chinese state and North American corporate interests. We begin with a political and economic review of this sector. The paper then focuses on the scope and scale of collective action through an analysis of on-line activity, and interviews with key social movement actors. The questions we address range from the descriptive, such as the different formats, contents and memberships of campaigns, to an analysis of the differing repertoires of action of social movements, and finally, the changing scope of campaigns across sectors, and national borders. Although there is considerable literature about social movement use of the Internet in China and North America, very little focuses on its use for mobilization in rural resource communities. Nor is there much comparison of campaign strategies among different social movements, nor vis a vis state and corporate actors. This paper contributes to knowledge across the disciplines of communications, political science and Chinese studies.