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    ‘Shell to Sea’ in Ireland: building social movement potency

    Salter, K. and Sullivan, Sian (2008) ‘Shell to Sea’ in Ireland: building social movement potency. Working Paper. LSE Non-Governmental Public Action Programme, London, UK.

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    In 1996 the Corrib gas field, holding over 1 trillion cubic feet of gas, was discovered by Enterprise Oil 83km off the North West coast of Ireland. Acquired by Shell in 2002, proposed extraction and processing is now a co-venture between several multinational energy corporations who aim to transport the gas some 90kms via pipeline to an onshore refinery site at Bellanaboy. Although heralded as a significant opportunity for development and employment by Shell and participating companies, local resistance to the proposals, on social and environmental grounds, has been sustained and effective. Mirroring global conflicts between the petrochemical industry and local people and lifeworlds, this resistance has elicited repressive responses, including the jailing of local landowners by the Irish state following their resistance to unprecedented compulsory land acquisition orders, and the taking out of a court injunction by Shell in 2005. Drawing on elements of contemporary social movement theory, and on both field research and analysis of campaign documents and media reports, this paper seeks to describe and reflect on the shape and spread of the social movement that has arisen in response to this development project. We focus on the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign which has argued for the offshore, as opposed to the onshore, development of the gas field, and has garnered support from many other social movement groups and networks. In particular we consider the use of alternative media in strengthening shared networks of concern and in engaging critically with corporate media representations of both the project and the mobilisation. We conclude that social movement effectiveness and potency is in large part an outcome of collective and subjective commitments to intense work effort and the sharing of felt solidarity regarding environmental and social concerns; and we iterate the significance of affective and subjective dimensions of social movement activities alongside more conventional descriptions of work practices and structuring contexts.


    Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
    Additional Information: ISBN: 9780853282242
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): social movement theory, development, alternative media, Shell to Sea, solidarity, subjectivity, networking, affect, potency
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Dr Sian Sullivan
    Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2013 16:07
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:02


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