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When anger meets joy: how emotions mobilise and sustain the anti-coal seam gas movement in regional Australia


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In many countries, the expansion of unconventional gas exploration and development has been met with grassroots resistance; the scale and depth of which has surprised even movement organisers. An often-remarked feature of the movement’s success is the teaming up of farmers and environmental organisers, historically at odds with one another on other environmental issues. This paper explores the role of emotions in building alliances, and mobilising opponents of coal seam gas (CSG) in a particular rural setting in Australia. Drawing on interviews with anti-CSG movement participants, the paper argues that emotions help to explain how the movement has mobilised and sustained alliances despite differences between movement participants. We find that while anger plays a central role in mobilising various anti-CSG actors, it is the combination of anger with joy which helps to sustain the anti-CSG movement in regional Australia. Our analysis reveals three key sites (individuals, within groups, and the public arena) where these emotions are expressed and negotiated, and emphasises the influence of the rural context in this process.
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Social Movement Studies
ISSN: 1474-2837 (Print) 1474-2829 (Online) Journal homepage:
When anger meets joy: how emotions mobilise
and sustain the anti-coal seam gas movement in
regional Australia
Hedda Ransan-Cooper, Selen A. Ercan & Sonya Duus
To cite this article: Hedda Ransan-Cooper, Selen A. Ercan & Sonya Duus (2018) When anger
meets joy: how emotions mobilise and sustain the anti-coal seam gas movement in regional
Australia, Social Movement Studies, 17:6, 635-657, DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2018.1515624
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Published online: 04 Sep 2018.
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When anger meets joy: how emotions mobilise and sustain
the anti-coal seam gas movement in regional Australia
Hedda Ransan-Cooper
, Selen A. Ercan
and Sonya Duus
Research School for Computer Science, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia;
Centre for
Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
In many countries, the expansion of unconventional gas explora-
tion and development has been met with grassroots resistance;
the scale and depth of which has surprised even movement
organisers. An often-remarked feature of the movements success
is the teaming up of farmers and environmental organisers, his-
torically at odds with one another on other environmental issues.
This paper explores the role of emotions in building alliances, and
mobilising opponents of coal seam gas (CSG) in a particular rural
setting in Australia. Drawing on interviews with anti-CSG move-
ment participants, the paper argues that emotions help to explain
how the movement has mobilised and sustained alliances despite
dierences between movement participants. We nd that while
anger plays a central role in mobilising various anti-CSG actors, it is
the combination of anger with joy which helps to sustain the anti-
CSG movement in regional Australia. Our analysis reveals three key
sites (individuals, within groups, and the public arena) where these
emotions are expressed and negotiated, and emphasises the inu-
ence of the rural context in this process.
Received 28 July 2017
Accepted 21 August 2018
Conict; emotions; fracking;
movement; rural;
unconventional gas
In many countries, the expansion of unconventional gas exploration and development
has been met with grassroots resistance, the scale and depth of which has even surprised
movement organisers (Organ, 2014). This is particularly noteworthy given recent
research revealing that the mobilisation of groups against energy infrastructure is
neither inevitable nor easily explained by prevailing social movement theories
(Wright & Boudet, 2012). In Australia, the anti-coal seam gas (CSG) movement
is composed of urban and rural people from across the political spectrum, united by
common concerns about the impacts of CSG on land, water and aected communities.
Specic concerns cut across social, environmental and economic issues. They range
from impacts on water, health risks, community cohesion, justice for Indigenous
people, to broader concerns around decision-making and government collusion with
industry, energy supply, and global climate change (Arashiro, 2017; Measham, Fleming,
& Schandl, 2016).
CONTACT Hedda Ransan-Cooper Research School of Computer Science,
Australian National University
2018, VOL. 17, NO. 6, 635657
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
The emotional content of the debate over CSG development is one of its most
striking features. This is despite industry and government attempts to frame the issue
as simply a matter of managing technical risks (Boyd, 2013). Concerns are often
expressed with fear, anger, frustration and outrage. At face value, it is unsurprising
that the number of real and perceived risks from CSG development, alongside the
prospect of transformed rural landscapes and communities, might incite complex and
deeply emotional responses (Devine-Wright, 2009; Gross, 2007). Emotional responses
are not unique to opponents of CSG. Proposed CSG developments also spark strong
support from those excited by the prospect of increased employment opportunities,
especially in regions with aging populations and a lack of employment opportunities for
younger people (Brown, 2014).
This paper builds on the growing body of literature on emotions and social move-
ments showing how emotions intersect with mobilisation, de-mobilisation (across
individual and collective scales), and the development of intra-movement solidarities
(Ahmed et al., 2016; Bosco, 2006; Clough, 2012; Flam, 2015; Rodgers, 2010; Woods,
Anderson, Guilbert, & Watkin, 2012). These studies oer useful insights for under-
standing the relationship between emotions and movement dynamics in a wide range of
areas including environmental controversies that surround energy (Askland, 2017; Cass
& Walker, 2009; Ey, Sherval, & Hodge, 2017; Lai, Lyons, Kyle, & Kreuter, 2017),
forestry (Buijs & Lawrence, 2013), and environmental risk (Jacobson, 2016). In this
context, the emotions ladderdeveloped by Woods et al. (2012) provides a particularly
useful metaphor to understand how dierent emotions become prominent as protest
movements proceed over time. Woods et al. rightly suggest that apart from the
particular issues that trigger protest activity (in their case the issue of hunting in
rural Britain), the existing, or backgroundemotions (see also, Jasper, 2011) such as
those related to care for place, usually scale up to anger about a perceived threat and
can easily escalate further to feelings of frustration. Yet, Woods et al.s analysis remains
silent of the particularities of rural contexts in shaping the contours of emotional
enrolment, especially in relation to movement dynamics a theme we seek to explore
in some detail in our analysis.
To understand how dierent emotions interact with each other, how the rural
context inuences this interaction, and the way people mobilise against large scale
energy projects, we focus on the anti-CSG movement opposing the Narrabri Gas
Proposal (NGP) a controversial CSG project proposed in north-west New South
Wales (NSW) in Australia. We analyse this case by employing an aective practices
approach, which is particularly well suited to draw out the dynamic and contextual
features of emotions in social movements. The aective practices approach captures the
idea that emotions are typically repetitive and familiar, but are also very context specic
(Wetherell, 2012)and not immediately knowable or communicable (Wetherell, 2013).
We argue that examining the dynamics of how aect bubbles up at dierent scales,
from movement participants, to in-group dynamics, and nally to public expression,
can help us understand surprisingor unexpectedly intense emotional responses to
CSG and, in this case, the birth of a grassroots anti-coal seam gas movement. In other
words, rather than trying to ascertain or pin down particular emotions found in the
Narrabri anti-CSG movement, we explore how emotions, while rooted in historical
ways of doingemotion, also are shaped through individual and collective experiences
in the rural context.
Our analysis reveals that core aspects of rural identity and everyday aective experi-
ences have a profound eect on the capacity of people to collectively mobilise and
respond to an external threat, such as CSG development. There is a strong social
imperative for people in small rural communities to get along with each other and to
constructively negotiate disagreements (Alexander, 2015). This aects the way negative
emotions such as anger or frustration are expressed in a small community context and
as part of the anti-CSG movement. In our case, we nd that while anger is the central
emotion fuelling the anti-CSG movement in and around Narrabri, how people do
angerin a rural context is key to understanding how movement participants come
together and negotiate their dierences. The small rural community context also
enables movement participants to combine anger with the joy of doing community
together. Our analysis shows that while negative emotions (such as anger, fear, and
distress at the idea of CSG development) play a crucial role in the formation of the anti-
CSG movement, it is the combination of negative emotions with positive ones (such as
joy of social connection and the love of place) which helps to sustain this movement
and the alliances built in and around Narrabri.
The paper begins with a conceptual discussion about the role of emotions in social
movements to foreground the practice-based approach we take. We then provide a
background to our case study in the context of the broader anti-CSG movement in
Australia, as well as an outline of our research methods. We discuss how emotions
enliven mobilisation and solidarity building in our case study by focusing on the
dierent roles they play in individuals, within groups, and the public sphere. Finally,
we reect on the empirical and conceptual implications of these ndings for existing
and future research on emotions in social movements.
Emotions in social movements: the aective practices approach
Social movements are rich in emotion. Emotions such as anger, fear, and shame play a
central role in the formation of social movements, the recruitment of potential mem-
bers, and in the interaction of movements with their targets (Della Porta & Giugni,
2013). They can help or hinder mobilisation eorts and aect the success or failure of
social movements. As such, the emotional dimension of social movements has long
been the focus of theoretical and empirical research (for an overview see Jasper, 2011;
Ruiz-Junco, 2013). Generally, the theoretical underpinnings of much of the research on
emotion can be found in cultural approaches to emotion, which understand it as an
embodied evaluative response to the environment (some refer specically to the
cognitive appraisal approach e.g. Jasper, 2014). Although some researchers have
begun toying with cultural theories of aect (e.g. Papacharissi, 2016), the requirement
of explaining the workings of social movements has meant that researchers have
typically turned to more empirically-grounded theories from sociology. In this sense,
the task has been about bringing inemotion to existing concepts such as framing and
collective identity, as exemplied in Arlie Hochschilds concept of emotional labour
(Hochschild, 1983) or Yangs(2000) work on emotional achievementas a motivator
for movement participation. These studies have provided valuable insights into how
emotions can be managed, channelled or harnessed in a way that contributes to the
success of social movements (Ruiz-Junco, 2013).
There now seems to be increasing interest in analysing emotion as a force in its own
right in everyday movement work not just as adding interesting psycho-social texture
to prevailing concepts. For instance, authors such as Clough (2012) and Gould (2009)
see emotion as adding another structural layeronto social analysis of movements
Gould for instance uses the concept of emotional habitus. These are promising
conceptual avenues, helping us to see emotion as important on its own terms. The
dynamism evident in both Clough (2012) and Goulds research prompts us to question,
as Wetherell does (Wetherell, 2012,2015), whether concepts such as Pierre Bourdieus
habitusand Raymond Williamsstructures of feelingare adequate for revealing the
role emotion plays in the creation and workings of social movements.
The dynamism
of emotion in movements has been noted by many authors (e.g. Jasper, 2014), which
raises the empirical question of how can one study something that is so mobile, yet
clearly also patterned.
In her fascinating analysis of the mobilisations against government neglect of HIV-
Aids victims in the United States in the 1980s, Gould (2012) shows how the emotions
associated with loss and shame were transformed into pride and anger. Her analysis
reveals three conceptual points that underscore the dynamism of emotion. First, emo-
tions are non-static: whether privately felt or generated in a collective, they can change
due to a momentous event or in relation to the engagements of everyday life. Second,
they are combinatory: emotions come bundled together despair can coexist not only
with feelings of grief and sadness, but also with an activating anger. How despair
combines with or gets tethered to other feeling states, aects its political potential.
Third, the way emotions work is indeterminate: the same feeling may lead to a range of
In this paper, we argue that Wetherells(2012)aective practicesapproach is a
productive avenue for studying the dynamic nature of emotion in social movement
research. There is much that is similar with prevailing approaches for Wetherell,
emotions are relational and embodied. Yet what is distinctive about Wetherells
approach is an insistence on both how emotions are interpreted and expressed (their
meaning making) along with their physical manifestation (e.g. breaking out in sweat,
before you perhaps fully realise you are nervous). Wetherell argues that we understand
our own sense of nervousnessand what has caused it, at the same time as we feelthat
emotion in our bodies (of course this interpretation can change over time as the person
reects or discusses the emotional response with others). From this perspective, phy-
sical, symbolic and relational elements come together and produce emotions. As
Wetherell (2015, p. 86) notes body/brain landscapes, meaning making, feeling,
communication, and social action entangle and become gured together in emotion
episodes. The aective and the discursive intertwine.
In everyday life, aective practices are typically repetitive and familiar, but as in any
social practice they are also exible and can change with novel social experiences
(see also Reckwitz, 2002). As such, aective practices are a sketch, rather than a recipe
or rulebook. An over-reliance on the idea of feeling rules, has the drawback of not quite
being able to capture the mobile, context specicity, and exible patterning character-
istic of emotion in action.
In empirical application, we can distinguish between aective practices ways of
doingemotion, such as being enthusiastic, which help us explore the experiences of
emotion in everyday life (Wetherell, 2012)and aective discourses which involve an
articulation, mobilisation, and organisation of aect and discourse which imply the way
things shouldbe, and are typically used in the public sphere as a rhetorical device
(Wetherell, McCreanor, McConville, Moewaka Barnes, & Le Grice, 2015, p. 57). It is
important to make this distinction because in a social movements context, we are
interested in everyday emotional experiences (aective practices), and how these
become mobilised in the context of building and sustaining a social project (in our
case study, stopping CSG). Aective practices capture the idea that people express
emotions in particular ways that are familiar, but that also intersect with individual
experience and the particularity of context (and hence, emotions are not a robotic
repetition of past behaviour).
In our study, the aective practice approach helps us to identify the role of the rural
context in shaping emotions and their expression. We examine how aective practices
are involved in mobilisation and in the development of alliances between dierent
groups. At the same time, we are also interested in how emotions are enrolled to
convince others. That is, how the development of aective discourses may shape how
the movement feels about itself and how these feelings help sustain the momentum of
the movement.
Aective discourses involve articulating relationships of proximity and distance, and
inclusion and exclusion that constitute an emotional frame, in our case for the politics
surrounding the proposed CSG development. They often imply positions and reper-
toires which naturalise some emotions over others; typically, an agent or a circum-
stance to blame becomes marked out, often combined with innocence and passivity on
the part of the disappointed and aggrieved who thus become not actors but reactors
(our emphasis) (Wetherell et al., 2015, p. 58). Our analysis not only emphasises those
aective practices that are distinctly rural, or those that participants articulate in
relation to their involvement in the anti-CSG movement, but also how these practices
spatialize, demarcate and place communities and social groups(Wetherell et al., 2015,
p. 60). The relationship between social power and aect is dynamic and, for social
movement research, this is of particular relevance. As in Cloughs(2012) empirical
work, aective practices are embedded in the enterprise of social change, but must also
respond to external (and internal) threats and challenges. As such we will explore how
aective discourses are fundamental to the experiences of doing activism, building
alliances, and positioning anti-CSG actors in relation to actors outside the movement.
Background: the anti-CSG movement in Narrabri and beyond
Our paper focuses on the movement opposing the Narrabri Gas Project (NGP), a
proposed coal seam gas project south of the town of Narrabri, 500km north-west of
Sydney. The proponent of the Narrabri Gas Project (NGP), the energy corporation
Santos, proposes to develop 850 gas wells across a project area of approximately 1,000
square kilometres. The majority of the project area occurs within the Pilliga State
Forest, with the remainder on privately owned agricultural land. The project area for
the proposed CSG development falls entirely within in the boundaries of Narrabri
Shire, with a population of around 14,000 people across 13,000km
. Agriculture is the
dominant sector in the region which includes a variety of crops, most famously cotton,
and grazing enterprises (Narrabri Shire Council, n.d.). Concerns about potential nega-
tive impacts from the NGP strongly align with complaints against CSG in other parts of
Australia and around the world including issues around water, agriculture, human
health, socio-economic impacts, community well-being, property rights, procedural
justice, governance and regulation, the natural environment and climate change
(Arashiro, 2017; Labouchardiere, Goater, & Beeton, 2014; Lloyd, Luke, & Boyd, 2013;
Measham et al., 2016; Taylor, Sandy, & Raphael, 2013). Risks to underground water are
particularly emphasised in the Narrabri region, given the local agricultural industrys
reliance on ground water and the proximity of the Great Artesian Basin (De Rijke,
Munro, & Zurita, 2016; also see Hendriks, Duus, & Ercan, 2016). Our case study has
also revealed emotional distress as a signicant impact of CSG development a
dimension that has been observed in other research on extractive industries, whereby
individuals and communities can suer from changes to familiar and cherished land-
scapes, interruptions to their sense of place, and pressures from local socio-economic
changes (Askew & Askland, 2016; Askland, 2017; Connor, Albrecht, Higginbotham,
Freeman, & Smith, 2004; Everingham, Devenin, & Collins, 2015; Ey et al., 2017;
Hossain et al., 2013; Lai et al., 2017; Sherval & Hardiman, 2014).
Community opposition to the NGP began to emerge from around 2009 and rapidly
gained momentum. Spills and other incidents in the early stages of local CSG explora-
tion coalesced with circulating horror storiesabout CSG production in Queenslands
new gas elds, galvanising concern (Askew & Askland, 2016). By August 2010, there
was sucient community agitation about the potential combined impacts of coal and
CSG on surface and ground water in the Narrabri region to prompt the NSW govern-
ment to commission a comprehensive water impact study.
In the following months,
the Lock the Gate Alliance was ocially formed, bringing environmentalists, farmers
and other concerned individuals into coalition in their joint ght against the CSG
industry (see Colvin, Witt, & Lacey, 2015). Facebook and other social media sites
quickly developed into an essential communicative backbone of the burgeoning anti-
CSG movement, helping to mobilise and facilitate contact between diverse and geo-
graphically dispersed individuals and communities (Hendriks et al., 2016).
The diversity of individuals and groups opposed to the NGP echoes a pattern in the
anti-CSG movement more broadly. Concerned citizens from across the political spec-
trum are nding common ground; signicant tensions that have at times existed
between farmers, environmentalists and Aboriginal people over resource extraction,
environmental management and land tenure (Lockie, 2000; McCarthy, 2017; Ritter,
2014; Vincent & Neale, 2016), in at least some respects, are being transcended to create
alliances of strange bedfellows
against the common enemy of CSG production. The
large number of concerns bundled around CSG might help to explain the number and
diversity of detractors. Research has also shown that apparent disparity within anti-CSG
coalitions belies consistent and compatible personal values of those involved (Colvin
et al., 2015).
Local opposition to the NGP is largely comprised of farmers in the Narrabri region,
but also includes some residents of Narrabri and surrounding towns. Farmers con-
cerned about the construction of a gas pipeline on black soil plains were among the rst
to oppose CSG in the region. More recently, People for the Plains, a grassroots
organisation concerned about the proposed project, has been a central farming-oriented
community opposition group based around Narrabri. Members of Coonabarabran
Residents Against Gas (CRAG), a group based in a town over 100km south of
Narrabri, includes a number of people who have a longer history with environmental
activism in the region and who are generally more accustomed to direct action
interventions. There are local loopsof Knitting Nannas Against Gas (KNAG),
well as individuals who do not associate with particular groups, but who have played
pivotal roles in organising bush camps in the Pilliga Forest and activities such as the
Pilliga Push’–a rolling summer of activism in 201516. There are a number of local
Aboriginal people who have been actively involved in the opposition to CSG
(see Norman, 2014), and there has been an eort across the other opposition groups
to create space for Indigenous voices.
Larger state- and nation-wide organisations,
such as The Wilderness Society and Lock the Gate Alliance, have also played a role in
the north-west. In early 2012, an umbrella group was formed the North West Alliance
in an eort to coordinate strategies among the member groups.
As with Australian anti-CSG networks more generally, the historical tensions
between many of the constituent member groups of the anti-CSG movement in the
Narrabri region are signicant. The rapid development of the cotton industry in the
region from the late 1950s brought conict over water and chemical use, and later
genetic modication (Askew & Askland, 2016); the earlier colonial history saw an often
aggressive taking over of Aboriginal land, with long-lasting consequences for
Indigenous people (see Norman, 2014). In such a potentially fraught and emotion-
ally-charged context, a focus on the role of emotions in mobilising and building
solidarity is particularly tting, although to date this has not been examined.
Our analysis is part of a larger research project examining the conict around the
Narrabri Gas Project drawing on over 45 semi-structured interviews and extensive
qualitative data collected over three separate eldtrips to the Narrabri region between
November 2015 and June 2017. To identify the role of emotions in building and
sustaining the anti-CSG movement in the region, we particularly focus on a subset of
12 semi-structured interviews with the key actors who have been active in the anti-CSG
movement around Narrabri. Our purpose here is not to make generalisations based on
these interviews but rather generate context specic insights about the role of emotions
in the anti-CSG movement from the perspective of the actors involved in this move-
ment. In other words, our analysis does not seek to exhaustively explain the broad
spread of experiences of CSG activism, rather it seeks to understand the context specic
factors at play (as suggested by Guest, Bunce, & Johnson, 2006).
Semi-structured interviews oer a powerful way to understand these factors and the
emotions at play when individuals engage with social movements. Participants are
encouraged to share rich biographical information, providing an opportunity to under-
stand how emotionally infused experiences, relationships, and events relate to political
engagement. Our interviews focused on participantsengagement in the CSG debate,
their concerns, and perspectives on the nature of the debate over time. Members of our
research team have also engaged in participant observation through attending a large
anti-CSG event in Narrabri in November 2015, and sitting down with participants
during a highway protest in June 2016.
Much has been written about the methodological diculties in seeking to under-
stand the emotions of others, particularly in a cultural context in which emotions are
understood as private and as juxtaposed with reason (Wettergren, 2015). Yet, emotion
pervades narrative, and emotions are narrative in their character (Kleres, 2011;
Wettergren, 2015). As such, in listening to the recorded interviews, we paid particular
attention to how emotions were embedded in stories of movement participation and
characterisation. When participants explicitly discussed emotions (for instance when
describing feeling burnt out,orangry), we analysed how these emotions were
discussed and what they meant to participants. When emotions were directly expressed,
we paid attention to how they were expressed and what this meant to participants and
to the broader anti-CSG movement (see Katriel, 2015 for a similar focus). Importantly,
our analysis drew on a broader understanding of emotional content than just what was
directly discussed or expressed. We also considered the tone of voice, narrative struc-
ture, and use of metaphor to understand where and how emotions surfaced in relation
to the emotions of the anti-CSG movement. In what follows, we focus on the key
ndings emerging from our analysis of emotions as aective practices in the context of
the anti-CSG movement formed around the controversial Narrabri Gas Project.
Findings: sites of and for emotions in the anti-CSG movement
Actors involved in the anti-CSG movement have developed a range of aective reper-
toires by drawing on a combination of identities, social ties, and organisational forms
that constitute everyday social life (Tilly, 2006). As argued by Wright and Boudet
(2012), these everyday experiences of actors make up the context which has historically
been missing from explanations of mobilisation against large energy projects. We argue
that these experiences, and in particular the aective dimensions of these experiences,
are core to explaining the emergence and dynamics of the anti-CSG movement in
Our analysis reveals three dierent sites in which emotions as aective practices play
a crucial role. These include: i) the site of the self, where emotions are entangled in
individuals experiences of mobilisation; ii) in-group and between-groups sites, where
emotions are embedded in alliance building and where they help to sustain movement
participation; and iii) public sites, where emotions help in claim making and persuading
others. The distinctions between these three sites are blurred, but in what follows we
distinguish them for analytical purposes.
The site of the self: the role of emotions in individuals' experiences of
We start with the self as a site of aective discursive activity. It is through the embodied
experience of being an activist that the role of aect in anti-CSG activism is revealed.
For instance, emotions can drive activist involvement, be expressed as doubt about
risking participation in certain actions, and be experienced as the rollercoasterof an
activist life that must be managed in private and with trusted others. As one might
expect, during interviews there was a tendency for participants to focus on the sub-
stance of their concerns rather than dwell for long on emotions. Similarly, while
participants occasionally expressed overt emotions, often emotional content was
implied through descriptions of how they became involved and the issues that most
concerned them, as well as through the simple evidence of their long-term commitment
and engagement. This points to an important dimension of the role of emotions in the
anti-NGP campaign. The depth of emotion is often hinted at, rather than openly
reected, as it might be in other movements that have more expressive aective
practices in their repertoires. Emotional reexivity and having spaces to express
dicult emotions associated with activism appears to be a key element in maintaining
movements and managing burn out (Brown & Pickerill, 2009; Gould, 2012). As
discussed below, emotional reexivity does not appear to be a core part of the
Narrabri movements repertoire of aective practices, although the potential negative
implications of this (in terms of burn out) is mitigated by collective action (such as
participating in community events).
Our ndings resonate with that of Woods et al. (2012), who describe how people
express a range of emotions in the face of CSG development: from love of place
(expressed in the use of phrases such as this is a special place); to anger, fear, and
distress at the idea of CSG development and its associated risks; to feelings of betrayal
and frustration at the sense of disrespect from authority gures. Most of our partici-
pants were new to activism and so did not have an established repertoire of activist
aect to draw on, or the emotional resilience developed through long-lasting campaigns
(explored e.g. in Rodgers, 2010). In their articulation of anger, we see bewilderment, a
note of outrage, and a sense of surprise about the government and the CSG industrys
willingness and power to override their sense of justice, civil rights, and democracy. As
one participant said:
... I really want to be here [in this region and community], how dare you threaten us,
weve just settled here.I dont want to have this threat of CSG over our heads. And then I
just started to become more just wanted to learn more about it and then the more I
learnt the scarier that I was like, Oh my gosh, this cant be true.
Again as intimated in the emotions ladder developed by Woods et al. (2012), we can see
in participantsstories how anger/fear is escalated to frustration against authority
gures. This can then lead to active involvement in even the more extreme tactics
associated with activism tactics, outside of their usual experiences such as locking
their bodies on to gas infrastructure or machinery (locking on). The anger and
indignation stems from a sense of being profoundly disrespected by authority gures
and a sense that the risks and impacts associated with CSG, especially to water, are
unacceptably high.
In one participants view, independence and not wanting to be impeded by others all
that much, is a distinctly rural characteristic, particularly among farmers.
This senti-
ment can perhaps be understood in terms of the relative isolation of rural areas
accentuating the value of autonomy and resourcefulness. Feeling intruded upon is
then particularly confronting to prevailing rural identities, leading to an acute sense
of frustration and anger.
As others have argued, the identity shift required by a person moving from being
relatively apolitical to taking direct action requires not just a cognitive liberation, but
also an emotional liberation. Anger plays a specic role in emotional liberation, and
results in the cutting of ties with prevailing systems of power and authority (Flam, 2015,
further elaborated by Benski & Langman, 2013). Our ndings suggest that anger is
often fuelled by a perceived lack of respect and engagement by authority gures. As one
respondent said Its a highly emotive debate and its emotive because nobodys bloody
well listening to us.
What is interesting here too is that direct actiontactics represent
a particular repertoire of contention usually associated (in this region) with environ-
mental activists in anti-logging protests. Participantswillingness to engage in direct
action, as well as activist work in general, is noteworthy given many movement
participants described themselves as being time poor, and the fact that historically
farmers have generally not engaged in radical forms of protest. It is worth noting that it
was not only non-local activists that brought these tactics to the case study region; anti-
logging and anti-mining activity was already occurring in the region, so familiarity with
direct action amongst a minority of locals in the movement is likely to have facilitated
the adoption of this repertoire for those new to activism.
For many local people involved in anti-CSG activism in our case study, the novelty
and excitement associated with experiences of direct action often lay in tension with a
desire not to be out of step with the broader community. Discomfort with being at odds
with the broader local community was a common theme implied in many participant
comments. This was also commonly expressed as a reluctance to become engaged in
confrontational encounters with those in their community they knew disagreed with
Certainly, ambivalence and reluctance also characterised many participantsdiscus-
sion about their involvement in anti-CSG activities, with one person noting that they
had moved to the country explicitly for a quiet retirement
; another noting Im
branded an activist and that brand carries a person who doesnt want to wear it.
This reluctance stemmed in part from the emotional energy and time burden required
to be activists.
Participants generally did not express explicit pride in being an anti-CSG activist per se
instead, people expressed joy and pride when their eorts were recognised across mainstream
media outlets, or by prominent commentators. In other words, there was a strong desire to
normalise anti-CSG sentiment, and for many participants especially those new to being
politically active a feeling of frustration that it was not already more mainstream. A few of
our participants did mention a sense of empowerment from learning new skills related to
campaign management and communicating with the media. Moreover, while fewer partici-
pants described enjoying activism for its own sake, for one retiree and migrant, involvement in
activism (beginning with other environmental issues prior to the CSG controversy) was a way
to express her connection to place:
For me [involvement in the debate is] doing community as well as attention to place, but a
lot of that is actually doing community, thats what I call it. Just being involved is part, as
a way of belonging in place.
For this participant and several others, it appears that involvement in groups such as
Knitting Nannas Against Gas (KNAG) provided a sense of connection and belonging to
community that might otherwise be quite dicult when not actively involved in the
workforce. This experience also highlights that emotions around CSG activism mean
dierent things depending on life stage and the potential eects of CSG on ones life
and livelihood. Those who were more actively reliant on groundwater for farming
talked less about the benets of connection to community and more about the risks
of CSG. One participant referred to a farmer she knew:
She said I have nightmares, I have nightmares. Theyre drilling through the Great
Artesian Basin. It just absolutely absorbs her completely.
While individualsanger against industry and government actively fostered on
Facebook sites (e.g. People for the Plains Facebook Group) helped maintain involve-
ment in the movement, the negative impact it had on individualslives also played a
dampening eect. Several participants referred to feeling drained, tired, and stressed by
the work and the ongoing uncertainty associated with whether or not the development
would go ahead. At least two of our participants had decided to opt out of the activist
work and described being burnt outby its intensity. One participant expressed a
stronger and more serious concern that the emotional toll could quite conceivably lead
to suicide,
a possibility fresh in peoples minds following the recent suicide of
prominent anti-CSG activist George Bender. George Benders suicide had become a
highly public discussion point in the national controversy over CSG, played out on
national television, in press statements and news articles, and with a later Federal Senate
Inquiry being named in his honour (Drapalski, 2015; Lock the Gate Alliance, 2015;
Roche, 2015; Willacy, 2015).
While it is a theme that would require further research, participantsreluctance to
elaborate on the emotional toll from activist work seems consistent with research that
identies stigma being attached to the expression of vulnerable emotions in rural
communities. This then presents the possibility that without more explicit attention
to emotional distress caused by CSG, the rates of burn out and/or depression could
increase and present a force for the de-mobilisation of the movement. A dierent,
perhaps parallel scenario is that for some, anger continues to be scaled or ramped up.
One participant elaborated this:
[Local farmers opposing CSG] might become a bit like French farmers, eventually, and
become a little bit less inclined to be polite. The rst response [from Australian farmers] is
always: be polite. That is the diculty of getting up a political campaign. . . You cant just
go out and slag
people. But I dont know if that politeness will last. If they get the go-
ahead here and they start wanting to create a gas eld.
The anger and distress experienced by anti-CSG participants is often oset by the
excitement and sense of empowerment they feel when their eorts are recognised by
the mainstream media or prominent people, or when they try new tactics, and in the
moment of collective action. Yet allusions to burn out and to the negative toll on
peoples lives, often expressed almost as an aside, hints at the cost of ongoing activist
work with its associated ups and downs and uncertainties.
In-group and between group sites: the role of emotions in alliance-building
Our analysis shows that emotions play a particularly important role within the anti-
CSG movement, shaping the very emergence of the movement. It is also where we see
the possibilities for aspects of rural sensibilities being re-made; where for instance what
it is to be a woman, Indigenous (or for that matter an Indigenous woman) have begun
to take on a new meaning as the movement has provided opportunities for these groups
to take on the responsibility of coordinating and enacting protest actions.
Signicantly, it is the politeness’–and the emotional labour this entails that rural
people expect of each other which plays such an important role in the building of
movement solidarity:
. .. an important way of operating in the country is you dont upset people, because its part
of a survival mentality. You might actually want that person that youve completely
annoyed at some point, its how you live. Its part of living in a civil way.
Avoiding confrontation, and by implication the outward expression of emotion, was
referred to several times in terms of activist tactics. It was also mentioned in relation to
the workings of a widely perceived important umbrella group for the movement, the
North West Alliance (NWA). Early meetings of NWA were overall characterised by
goodwill, but some participants described individual loose cannonswho were fru-
strated with the content or pace of the discussions and who subsequently left the
meeting. These same people would ultimately return to meetings, which points to the
active emotional management required to continue participating in the movement. In
relation to developing more tolerance and managing oneselfone participant noted,
the more we met, the more we went on, the more we evolved skills to kind of keep that
Another stressed the work that they have done in their group to foster restraint
and ethical conduct among group members:
Weve spent a lot of time saying "you cannot disrespect people in the community",
particularly other individuals in our community. We all have to live together after this. .
.. Weve made really strong rules in our group that you dont name people and you dont
disrespect people and you dont drag them through the mud.
Another participant
emphasised the importance of not being elitistin campaign
work contrasting local grassroots anti-CSG engagement with other approaches to
anti-coal campaigning in the area that sought direct inuence with politicians. This
points to ongoing learning and reection, not just on the tactics of mobilisation, but on
the importance of relationships of trust and solidarity with a broad section of the
community. We would argue here too, that the values around mutual respect pursued
by the local anti-CSG movement have provided an opportunity for women and
Indigenous groups to express themselves politically in a safe and respectful space.
The dominance of women in the movement has been noted by participants themselves
(both female and male), although there is a variety of interpretations of the cause of
In small communities such as the one in our case study, robust relationships between
campaigners that involve trust and care are perhaps even more important than in larger
urban centres. Unlike the professional organisers we spoke with, local anti-CSG cam-
paigners cannot easily take a break from the constancy of concern about the future
impacts of CSG on their livelihoods and communities, or from the implications of a
hypothetical break down in community relations, a point that the organisers made and
understood well. In that sense, trusting each other, sharing the joys of campaign wins,
as well as the connection over the lived experience of activism is critically important.
One organiser emphasised this point at length:
. .. Because we recognise that relationships are the most important thing that we have in all
of this. We dont have the money and the resources and the government support, we just
have one another and we have our social networks and we have the collective intelligence
and networks of all the people that we work with, so maintaining good relationships is
number one.
In our case study, aective practices associated with cultivating good relationships have
a distinctly local, rural character centring on values of hospitality, loyalty and generos-
ity. Examples include a morning tea with scones at a campaign meeting held on
Mothers Day, local restaurants staying open late to cater for visitor activists (like
groups), and the presence of children and a festive atmosphere at a highway protest.
The expression of emotions such as joy and a sense of connection, such as through a
shared meal, opens up spaces of solidarity (Sziarto & Leitner, 2010). In all these
examples, we see that alongside more confrontational tactics like protests and locking
on, there is a lot of emphasis on caring for other campaigners and for creating spaces to
build, maintain and strengthen relationships. One example was weekly Knitting Nanna
meetings at a local cafe for people to doactivist work that is in keeping with a peaceful
and non-confrontational repertoire of contention, and a creative way of combining
anger with joy (Ercan, 2017; Ercan & Hendriks, 2018). These aective practices are key
for sustaining the movement, as they oer a way of mitigating burn out mentioned
There was evidence in our case study that people actively foster aective practices
involving mutual respect and trust among dierent local action groups, which include
farmers and non-farmers. Members of Coonabarabran Residents Against Gas (CRAG)
would attend actions organised by People for the Plains in a support capacity, while
being mindful not to steal the thunder of the organising group by tweeting breaking
news about the event. In another example, a couple who considered themselves long-
standing environmental activists deliberately held back from emphasising the issue of
climate change in early meetings as they were unsure that fellow (farmer) participants
would share their views on the issue. These interviewees described their delight in later
meetings when several farmers raised the links between CSG and climate change on
their own terms, demonstrating, to them, the value of the emotional management
associated with being patient and non-confrontational.
Anal example is the involvement of local Indigenous people in the movement
against the NGP. This is no small achievement in light of a history of colonialism and a
context imbued with mutual suspicion and segregation. One organiser believed humour
deployed by Indigenous participants, as well as Indigenous art and performance has
played a role in facilitating an ongoing conversationbetween non-Indigenous and
Indigenous locals (see also, Chazan, 2016). That ceremony and dance is being accepted
as part of the repertoires of contention is perhaps indicative of a mutual respect
emerging out of the process of mobilising against CSG (see Figure 1).
Challenges associated with maintaining positive relationships cannot be underesti-
mated, particularly in alliances where there are internal power imbalances between
participants that tend to undermine solidarity (Flam, 2015). References to minor
conicts on Facebook by participants within the anti-CSG movement point to some
of the risks to relationships, especially when people are feeling up against a wall, and
tired and strung-out.
People can take on the attitude of a keyboard warriorand
through this, risk alienating fellow campaigners. Learning from this, there have been
conscious attempts to have strategic face to face conversations and phone calls, so to
leave Facebook as a space for publicising events, sharing news and expressing solidarity
(Hendriks et al., 2016).
The expression of emotions in public arenas
In general, anti-CSG campaigners must tread carefully in the use of emotions and
associated aective discourses in the public arena. CSG is overwhelmingly framed as a
technical question by both industry and government, excluding non-technical issues
such as place attachment in decisions of whether development should go ahead or not.
Proponents of CSG have frequently characterised arguments against the industry as
emotional, usually as a means of discrediting their merit (Miskelly & Daniel, 2017). This
has forced CSG opponents to become more self-conscious about how they use emotion
in their public arguments, and to temper their own experiences of emotionality with
peer reviewed science. A key response has been to display dierent emotions to
dierent audiences (see also, Flam, 2015, p. 267), all the while projecting a position
of being reasonable. For instance, one participant stressed that all we can do as a
group is make sure whatever we communicate is well-informed and factual and
moderate and respectful.
Burden of proof standards can be relaxed when displaying emotions on social media
to a group that may be more sympathetic; a higher degree of overt emotional
Figure 1. Gomeroi Dancers at an anti-CSG event (screenshot from Pearce, 2014).
expression, including anger and expressions of solidarity, can be found online com-
pared to traditional print media. Emotions pitched to sympathetic audiences are
dierent to the more neutral emotions that are likely to be displayed in formal
proceedings, or the hostile emotions that may emerge in direct action protests.
Indeed, social media has been critical for building and maintaining networks of
supporters and for coordinating oine action. This is especially important in a rural
context where people are scattered across a large area. Research has previously found
around 20 Facebook sites that are wholly or signicantly focussed on opposing the NGP
(Hendriks et al., 2016), and numerous participants have stressed the important of both
Facebook and Twitter in the campaign.
All this being said, activists argue that to resonate with a broader public, they have
had to appeal in emotional as well as rational terms. Partly in response to the fraught
role of emotions in the public arena, anti-CSG actors have tended to draw on aective
discourses that universalise concerns rather than stress the private fears and anxieties of
local residents, such as those related to love of landscapes and attachment to the feelof
their communities and towns. Here then we see the strategic deployment of emotions
(Juris, 2008). In emotional claims to outside audiences, there is typically a focus on
future generationsand a sense of sacredness associated with water and food produc-
tion, thus appealing to emotions that an audience can accept/emote. The claimants
embedded in aective discourses typically portray farmers and rural people as pitted
against rich, powerful and prot-motivated multinational players supported by morally
corrupt government players. One tactic deployed as part of this aective discourse was a
series of surveys conducted by local anti-CSG groups. The surveys consisted of door
knocking across entire sub-regions and asking people whether they would prefer their
regions to remain gaseld free. The results were then publicised in major events such
as the Big Picture’–in which signs were displayed showing proportions of opposition
to CSG in particular communities (see Figure 2). The moral emotions appealed to here
was a sense of fairness and justice in the context of decision making and a local
democratic sensibility.
The movement has also drawn on important aective discourse associated with the
role of farmers in Australian culture. We see this in the dominance of aective
discourses associated with farmersconcerns (e.g. farms not gas) over themes such
as climate justice, or even land sovereignty. The symbolic power of farming in
Australian culture enables another aective discourse prevalent in our respondents
adeance and determination reected in their strong claims such as were not going
The primacy of localsemotions in the aective discursive repertoires appears to be
an important feature of the anti-CSG movement as a whole, with one respondent
I think theres beauty in diversity and seemingly dis-organisation. I dont think it is one
thing for everyone. Trying to put us in a box together would probably lead to conict that
didnt get us anywhere. I get very inspired by the diverse range of groups all over Australia
that are connected loosely but really driving their own agenda and putting their own local
vision forward. . . itsdenitely a movement of some description, and itsdenitely having
an inuence. And denitely being driven by locals in each of their regions and I think
thats maybe the strength of it in a way.
While the anti-CSG camp is most often criticised for its emotionality by others in the
public arena (see for example Energy Resources Information Centre, 2016; Wonhas,
2014), there is often failure by these same actors to recognise the passionate aective
discourses employed by pro-CSG actors who focus on the importance of jobs in a
context of an ageing regional population, where young people leave and do not return
(Connell & McManus, 2016; Hogan & Young, 2013; Measham & Fleming, 2014).
Indeed, it is striking that both aective discourses emphasise what is at stake is the
very viability of regional areas, suggestive of a deep anxiety felt by many people in
regional areas on this issue.
From the perspective of movement participants, the playing out of the local CSG
debate on the state and national stage is a win for the movement because it shows it is
more than just locals who careabout CSG. Movement participants have realised that
technical models of risks are not going to win over the public; if the debate remains on
those terms, they are likely to lose.
It is by appealing to moral emotions around
farming, that movement participants can justify the radical and uncivilactivities such
as locking on, framing this as a last desperate act in the face of an unresponsive
This paper has revealed that the mobilisation against CSG can be better understood
by including a consideration of the role of emotion. Using aective practices as our
conceptual lens, we dened emotion as an embodied way of making sense of
experiences. We have explored how the distinctly ruralaective practices and social
context have shaped the opportunities taken by, and limitations placed on,
Figure 2. Gaseld freedeclaration percentages, at Narrabri Big Pictureevent November 2015.
Photo supplied by author.
movement participants. We nd that that large-scale energy projects, such as the
proposed CSG project in Narrabri, mobilise a rich range of emotions: from love of
place; to anger, fear and distress at the idea of CSG development and its associated
risks; to feelings of betrayal and frustration at the sense of disrespect from authority
Our analysis reveals two crucial insights regarding the dynamic and combinatory
role of the rich variety of emotions in the context of the anti-CSG movement. First, it
shows that while anger is the central emotion fuelling the anti-CSG movement in and
around Narrabri, how people do angerin a rural context is key to understanding how
movement participants come together and negotiate their ideological dierences.
Interpersonal interactions in a rural context tend to be characterised not just by civility
but by hospitality, loyalty and inclusivity. Participation in community events and
holding back from confrontational interactions are key to building solidarity across
dierence. The need for exible aective discourses around doinganger that can
incorporate a range of new activist skills and strategies also points to the the importance
of establishing and maintaining relationships with others who can share their knowl-
edge and experience. It also shows that the CSG movement is remaking aspects of local
culture, in the sense that it is providing more avenues of expression for women and
Indigenous groups (though these of course are constrained by other aective discourses
that may in other contexts exclude these groups). At the same time, a tendency to gloss
over emotional impacts of activism, and to withdraw in the face of burn out, indicates
that opening up spaces to explore emotions in a reexive manner could reduce the
demobilising eects of negative emotions.
Second, our analysis suggests that the actors involved in the anti-CSG movement do
not only carry the negative emotions of anger and frustration. While anger seems to be
the central sentiment mobilising many anti-CSG actors, it is the combination of anger
with the joy of social connection which helps to in sustain anti-CSG movement in
regional Australia. There was not a commonly expressed explicit pride in being an anti-
CSG activist per se, but the movement participants expressed joy in coming together,
doing communityand employing a wide range of creative protest activities, such as
those performed by the Knitting Nannas Against Gas. These activities also oered a
space for movement actors to withdraw in the face of burn outand served to open up
spaces to explore emotions in a reexive manner that could reduce the demobilising
eects of emotions. Our ndings conrm the moral batteryargument suggested by
Jasper (2011), who notes that just as a battery works through the tension between its
positive and negative poles, a combination of a negative and a positive emotion can
operate as the moral batteryof a social movement driving action forward.
Our research also highlights the way in which rural identities can shape the expres-
sion of emotion in very district ways, and in ways that are distinct from urban actors.
This is an important nding that future research will need to be attentive to. More
broadly, our study arms the eorts of social movement scholars who emphasise the
combinatory, exible and unexpected nature of how emotions animate social move-
ments. Framing aect as patterned, yet exible, frees us to consider how emotional
experience and expression for movement participants has been not just relational, but
also dynamic and creative. If we are not only looking at rulesor patterns, but also at
how actors feel about the issues at stake, we can better understand how movement
actors can go from being relatively politically disengaged, to participating actively in
direct actions and protests.
Finally, we also argue that examining emotions simultaneously at dierent sites (in our
case, individual, ingroup, and public sites), and over time, is important for disentangling its
dierent eects on mobilisation and alliance building. Of course, this sort of methodolo-
gical approach could potentially be modied and extended across time, and to dierent
places and issues.
1. Gould draws on the sociological concept of habitus to explain the patterning of how
people do
emotion in a manner which is largely unconscious. Habitus refers to a set of embodied
dispositions but must also be understood within broader Bourdieuian social theory in
terms of how it intersects with capital, and eld (for further conceptual elaboration, see
Grenfell, 2008). Structures of feelingis an idea developed by Raymond Williams (1961)to
characterise a whole society or group of societies during a particular period in history. It
refers to a sense of what guides peoples behaviour and culture, beyond ocial discourses
in particular periods of time, such as the feeling of risk anxiety in modern capitalist
societies (Hoggett & Thompson, 2012).
2. A note about the terminology of emotionand aectin empirical analysis: aectis
generally used to describe generic feeling experiences, whereas emotiondescribes more
specic reactions.
3. The Namoi Water Study (Schlumberger Water Services, 2012).
4. Phrase taken from (Colvin et al., 2015).
5. This group was formed in June 2012 when a small group of women from the Northern
Rivers area of New South Wales self-described as nannas’–formed to protest against
proposed coal seam gas development. KNAG protests CSG development by gathering and
knitting in public spaces.
6. Interviewees #21 and #22, 24.11.15; #39, 17.3.17.
7. Interviewee #19, 24.11.15.
8. Interviewees #23, 25.11.15 and #33, 25.11.15.
9. Interviewee #12, 24.11.15.
10. Interviewee #5, 22.11.15.
11. Interviewee #18, 24.11.15.
12. Interviewee #5, 22.11.15.
13. Interviewee #16, 24.11.15.
14. Interviewee #15, 24.11.15.
15. Interviewee # 5, 22.11.15.
16. To slagis a common Australian term meaning to denigrate or criticise someone.
17. Interviewee #12, 24.11.15.
18. Interviewee #12, 24.11.15.
19. Interviewee #16, 24.11.15.
20. Interviewee #33, 25.6.16.
21. Interviewee #23, 25.11.15.
22. Interviewee #39, 17.3.17.
23. Interviewees #21 and #22, 21.11.15.
24. Interviewee #39, 17.3.17.
25. Interviewee #33, 25.6.16.
26. Interviewee #38, 17.3.17.
27. Interviewee #38, 17.3.17.
We are grateful to the research participants for their time and generous responses. We would
also like to thank John Dryzek, Carolyn Hendriks, Jensen Sass and Helen Sullivan for their
insightful comments and suggestions on the previous versions of this paper. We are also grateful
to Australian Research Council for providing nancial support for the research presented in this
paper (Grant no DP150103615, 'Realising Democracy Amid Communicative Plenty: A
Deliberative Systems'.)
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
This work was supported by the Australian Research Council [Discovery Project Grant
DP150103615 - Realising Democracy Amid Communicative Plenty: A Deliberative Systems
Notes on contributors
Hedda Ransan-Cooper was a research fellow the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global
Governance, University of Canberra for the research conducted in this paper. She is now a
contract research fellow at the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Australian
National University working on the sociological dimensions of a transition to renewable energy.
Her research interests include the human dimensions of global environmental change in the
areas of energy change and human migration.
Selen A. Ercan is an Associate Professor of Politics at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and
Global Governance/Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra. Her
research interests include deliberative democracy, identity politics, social movements, alternative
forms of political participation, and interpretive political research.
Sonya Duus is a research fellow the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance,
University of Canberra. Her research interests include the interrelationships between human and
environmental systems, particularly in the context of current dilemmas such as land degradation,
biodiversity loss, and global climate change. .
Hedda Ransan-Cooper
Selen A. Ercan
Sonya Duus
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... Finally, negative emotions of resignation, such as fear, also influence forms of political action (Williamson, 2011;Reed, 2014;Rigby and Sørensen, 2017;Ransan-Cooper et al., 2018). In this regard, some authors described that fear could act by inhibiting action (Poma and Gravante, 2017b) or motivating it (Reed, 2014). ...
... It is the case of the anti-coal seam gas (anti-CSG) movement in Australia, where fear and anger at the possibility of installing this type of industry played a crucial role in the origin of activist groups. The merge of these emotions with other positive feelings makes it possible to sustain protest actions over time, such as the love for the places defended and the enjoyment of the social connection that emerges during mobilizations (Ransan-Cooper et al., 2018). Moreover, it has been found that the motivation to instill fear of the outgroup was related to violent action. ...
... In contrast, negative feelings of resignation toward the protests have no effect. These findings confirm what has been raised by several authors (Jasper, 2014;Reed, 2014;Poma and Gravante, 2018;Ransan-Cooper et al., 2018), who found that there is a relation between emotions and protest actions. In our specific case, we found a greater preponderance of negative emotions but with a relevant role of hope when explaining the disposition to political action. ...
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This article analyzes the role of Chileans’ emotions as predictors of normative and non-normative political action in the context of the post-social outbreak and the constituent process. We carried out three descriptive studies: first, a study conducted 1 year after the social outburst ( n = 607), a second one carried out before the constitutional referendum ( n = 320), and a third study conducted after the constitutional referendum ( n = 210). The results indicated that participants present a higher disposition to normative over non-normative political action, although both lose strength as the studies temporally move away from the social outburst. Also, our research established that emotions directed towards different events related to the Chilean political process play a conspicuous role in predicting the disposition to mobilize in a normative and non-normative way.
... De modo que, así como aprendemos a través 46 de la interacción con otras personas, cuando es apropiado responder con miedo e ira, en nuestra interacción con otros también podemos aprender nuevas formas de respuesta emocional . A partir de estos desarrollos, los estudios contemporáneos reconocen un lugar relevante a las emociones en el estudio de las protestas sociales, pero no solo como una variable contextual, sino como una variable explicativa en sí misma, al ser un elemento que puede dificultar la acción colectiva o un factor movilizador y motivador de la misma (Ransan-Cooper, Ercan, Duus, 2018;Jasper, 2014;Poma y Gravante, 2018;Reed, 2004;Reed, 2014). ...
... Finalmente, el miedo también es una emoción que ha demostrado tener influencia en las movilizaciones Ransan-Cooper, Ercan y Duus, 2018;Reed, 2014;Williamson, 2011). Al respecto, se ha descrito que el miedo puede actuar inhibiendo la acción (Poma y Gravante, 2017b) o motivándola (Reed, 2014). ...
... Por último, en el caso de la disposición a votar en elecciones, solo tiene un efecto significativo el miedo hacia la violencia policial, que motivaría la participación eleccionaria, aunque éste es un modelo con un bajo nivel explicativo, dada la reducida varianza explicada. Estos hallazgos confirman lo que ha sido planteado por varios autores (Ransan-Cooper, Ercan, Duus, 2018;Jasper, 2014;Poma y Gravante, 2018;Reed, 2014), en términos de que existe una relación entre las emociones y las acciones de protestas, mostrando en este caso específico una mayor preponderancia de las emociones negativas, pero con un rol relevante de una emoción positiva como la esperanza a la hora de explicar la protesta social pacífica. ...
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En Chile, con el Estallido Social1 de octubre de 2019 explota el descontento contra casi todo lo establecido. Aunque se suele decir que con este acontecimiento el país “despertó”, lo cierto es que hemos asistido a un ciclo de movilizaciones que no han cesado desde el 2006 en adelante (Donoso, 2017) y en el que los feminismos han adquirido un protagonismo extraordinario durante los últimos tres años.
... From this perspective, anger, fear, and anxiety are considered "activating" because they predict behavioral attempts to reduce the threat, whereas negative emotions such as sadness are considered less activating and may lead to disengagement from a perceived threat. As such, our observation of eco-anger as the sole predictor of pro-environmental behavior is not surprising and aligns with decades of research on the potentially adaptive nature of anger, especially in a context when negative feelings should be expressed to elicit people's motivation to find solutions to problems (e.g., Celik et al., 2016;Ransan-Cooper et al., 2018). Here, we extended this finding to the context of climate change. ...
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Research on the emotional experience of climate change has become a hot topic. Yet uncertainties remain regarding the interplay between climate change-related emotions (i.e., eco-anxiety, eco-anger, eco-sadness), general emotions, and pro-environmental behaviors. Most previous research has focused on cross-sectional studies, and eco-emotions in everyday life have seldom been considered. In this preregistered study, we recruited 102 participants from the general population to rate eco-emotions (i.e., eco-anxiety, eco-anger, eco-sadness), general emotions (i.e., anxiety, anger, sadness), and pro-environmental behaviors and intentions daily over a 60-day period. Using a multilevel vector autoregressive approach, we computed three network models representing temporal, contemporaneous, and between-subjects’ associations between variables. Results suggest that eco-anger is the only predictor of pro-environmental intentions and behaviors over time. At the contemporaneous level (i.e., at the same time-point), the experience of each eco-emotion experience was associated with the emotional experience of the corresponding but climate-unrelated emotions (e.g., the momentary experience of eco-anxiety was associated with the momentary experience of anxiety). Overall, our results provide data-driven clues for the field's larger quest to establish the basis of eco-emotions and invite the hypothesis of a functional and experiential distinction between these three different eco-emotions.
... In Jasper's view, such contrasts or tensions can be strategically manipulated to mobilize action. It is not surprising then that this work has been pivotal in the sociological literature on social movements (Bail et al., 2017;Norgaard and Reed, 2017;Ransan-Cooper et al., 2018). ...
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Organisational scholars have treated emotions mostly as an individual-level phenomenon, with limited theorisation of emotions as an important component in social embeddedness. In this review essay, we argue for the need for a toolkit to study emotions as an inherently social phenomenon. To do so, we apply insights from sociology that have been under-utilised in management and organisation research. We focus on three sociological concepts: collective emotions and social bonds, emotional energy/moral batteries, and emotional capital. We then develop an integrative model of emotional embeddedness to emphasise that emotions are socially constructed and socially authorised. We end the paper by setting out a research agenda for more research in management and organisation that is informed by these three concepts.
... According to the path analysis created, the emotional balance would have a partial mediation role both between the perception of risk and the level of acceptance of the uranium mine proposal, as well as with the perception of benefit and the level of acceptance of the uranium mine. These results are in line with those found by Ransan-Cooper et al. (2018), who stated that in the face of fear of an energy project, negative emotions are activated that explain rejection and, in many cases, it is these emotions that agglutinate the rejection of the citizens that make up the affected populations (Johansson et al., 2022). Therefore, in the proposed theoretical model we present the emotional balance as a mediator in the acceptance or rejection of a proposal in such a way that when the perceived risk is high, negative emotions increase, therefore the emotional balance becomes negative and the impact of the perceived risk on the probability of accepting the mining proposal decreases. ...
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Introduction: The demographic growth and the development of the welfare system have been accompanied by an important social dilemma between preserving nature or promoting energy development by assuming the benefits and risks of both proposals. This research attempts to address this social dilemma by analyzing the psychosocial factors that influence the acceptance or rejection of a new uranium mining development and exploitation project. The main objective was to test an explanatory theoretical model of uranium mining project acceptance, based on the interrelation of sociodemographic variables (e.g., age, gender, economic and educational situation, and level of knowledge about uranium energy) and cognitive variables (e.g., environmental beliefs, risk, and benefit perceptions), along with the activation of an emotional balance in response to the proposal of constructing a uranium mine. Method: Three hundred seventy-one individuals responded to the questionnaire about the variables included in the model. Results: The results showed that older participants showed lower levels of agreement with the mining proposal people, while women and those with greater knowledge of nuclear energy perceived greater risks and had a more negative emotional balance. The proposed explanatory model based on sociodemographic, cognitive, and affective variables showed good fit indices for explaining the assessment of the uranium mine. Thus, age, level of knowledge, risks and benefits, and emotional balance had a direct effect on the acceptance of the mine. Likewise, emotional balance showed a partial mediation effect between the relationships existing between the perception of benefits and risks and the acceptance of the mining proposal. Discussion: The results are discussed based on the consideration of analyzing sociodemographic, cognitive, and affective variables to understand potential conflicts in communities affected by energy projects.
Although a number of texts have focused on the role of emotion in the dynamics of political mobilization, their focus has been predominantly on the initial stages of protest in the context of democratic or partly free societies. Using the case of the 2020–21 anti-police violence protests in Belarus, this article analyzes the role of emotional community in nondemocratic, authoritarian environments where vocal criticism is becoming increasingly risky, but the level of societal discontent remains high. Relying on mass media publications, comments on social media platforms, and ethnographic listening in Minsk, the article analyzes the emotional aspect of a protest that was followed by mass repressions. Two processes are identified that affect both protesters’ emotional community and supporters of the regime: emotional split from the opposite side and the psychologization of resistance to violence. These two concepts are useful for understanding the emotional dynamics of protest in authoritarian contexts but also have wider application beyond such settings.
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Organisational scholars have treated emotions mostly as an individual-level phenomenon, with limited theorisation of emotions as an important component in social embeddedness. In this review essay, we argue for the need for a toolkit to study emotions as an inherently social phenomenon. To do so, we apply insights from sociology that have been under-utilised in management and organisation research. We focus on three sociological concepts: collective emotions and social bonds, emotional energy/moral batteries, and emotional capital. We then develop an integrative model of emotional embeddedness to emphasise that emotions are socially constructed and socially authorised. We end the paper by setting out a research agenda for more research in management and organisation that is informed by these three concepts.
Emotions play a role in drawing people into activism and are a key dimension of activist experiences. However, although researchers have examined the political significance and ethical imperative of centring the voices and leadership of migrants in migrant rights struggles, there is limited consideration of how emotions are engaged in ways that inform, facilitate and challenge migrants in sustaining their activism. Through the case of undocumented youth activism in California, I explore how undocumented young people drew on practices of emotional reflexivity to navigate the complicated emotional register produced through activism as they reflected on their participation and trajectory through the undocumented youth movement. I suggest that the cultivation of storytelling spaces, cultures and practices within undocumented youth spaces supported and enhanced young people’s opportunities and capacity for engaging in relational practices of emotional reflexivity. These relational practices of emotional reflexivity supported young people to carve out expansive, dynamic and creative modes of activism that adapted to their shifting needs, circumstances and politics, while helping them to configure practices of care within the movement.
Building on qualitative interviews with Syrians who participated in the anti-regime movement of 2011 and now live in Berlin and Oslo, the article unpacks the ways that these contexts affected participants’ decision to continue or disrupt their activism in exile. By analyzing their activist trajectories from revolution to exile and drawing on the concept of emotional resonance, I reveal how Berlin and Oslo provided participants with different environments when dealing with their past experiences of participation. I show that while the mobilizing structures of Berlin provided spaces for activism that resonated with the emotional needs of activists, enabling them to continue activism on behalf of Syria, the mobilizing structures of Oslo failed to produce spaces that could respond to activists’ needs, playing a part in their disengagement there. The article extends the concept of emotional resonance and adds to the study of Syrian diasporas and emotions in the Syrian uprising.
Technical Report
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The report presents the findings of a collaborative project between the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the University of Newcastle (Uon) on attitudes to changing land use in the Narrbri shire, NSW. The study aimed to address three overarching questions: How do local residents within the Narrabri shire conceptualise and experience land use and land use change? How do local residents respond to changing land uses and land use impacts? And, in the context of changing and competing land use patterns, what can governments do to support the ongoing viability of rural and regional communities?
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The practice of natural resource extraction remains a key function of the global economy, and has been the subject of a considerable body of research, across multiple academic disciplines. Growing awareness of the economic, socio-cultural and ecological aspects of extractive practices (and their impacts) have also forced change in the way in which this research is conceptualised. Yet, despite conceptual shifts, a lack of engagement with the felt and emotive dimensions of the extractive sector remains striking. As a complex and highly contested industry, acknowledging emotion is crucial to breaking down problematic representations of the sector as a ‘rational’, ‘economic’ and emotionless space. This paper emphasises the need to engage and prioritise emotional and affective registers when thinking about, and representing, the extractive sector. Specifically, this paper explores the role of emotion in problematising approaches to the material across the sector, as well as in unsettling the often taken-for-granted and highly gendered workplace identities that characterise the sector. Finally, this paper will highlight the importance of validating emotion in legitimising important relationships to place that conflict with extractive practices. In essence, this paper calls for more emotionally attuned approaches to the extractive sector, in order to engage with its profoundly emotive dimensions and impacts.
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The development of a rural coal seam gas industry in regional Australia, together with its key technology, fracking, has been met by a very active, lively and vocal social protest movement. This 2013 Tricontinental Lecture in Postcolonial Studies reflects on this protest movement from two perspectives. First, it examines what a postcolonial studies perspective may bring to further understanding the relationships and dynamics between the industry and the protest movement. Secondly, it considers what postcolonial scholars themselves may be able to bring to critiques of social issues such as this environmental contention. The example described in this lecture also reminds us that postcolonial studies concerns more than the three continents of the Tricontinent, Latin America, Africa and Asia, and that it is centrally concerned with access to environmental resources. Building on the history of the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana, and the growth of postcolonial political philosophy and studies that focus on power, equity and access in postcolonial societies, this essay considers the power differentials between industry and government on the one hand, and the protest movement on the other. By examining the role of language and its control, a key social process in the wielding of power, it is shown that the coal seam gas development debate is couched in terms of industrial or governmental language, and not in the language of the community. This has three important consequences. First, opponents are forced to express concerns about technical matters or scientific matters, thus legitimising the proposed activity. Secondly, opponents are not authorised, within the formal sphere, to express their own feelings through their language of social anxiety, of love of the country, of being in the community, of history. Thirdly, both sides find themselves in a typical cross-cultural dilemma: either speak an inadequate form of language that the other party understands but that does not actually express what you mean, or speak your own language and risk the other party not understanding what you mean. Copyright © Bill Boyd 2013. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged. Coolabah, No.12, 2013, ISSN 1988-5946, Observatori: Centre d’Estudis Australians, Australian Studies Centre, Universitat de Barcelona 2 From a postcolonial studies perspective, this example reminds students of two key processes. First, students need to master the intellectual skills of the humanities in order to provide critical analysis of social situations. Secondly, students need to know that, as western scholars, they are as much part of any postcolonial problem as those in power, and therefore need to develop good reflective skills and to learn to think ‘otherwise’. This invited monograph is the text of the lecture, supplemented with further comments and illustrations, delivered to second year Humanities students at the University of Barcelona, Catalonia, on Monday 8th April 2013
The Handbook presents a most updated and comprehensive exploration of social movement research. It not only maps, but also expands the field of social movement studies, taking stock of recent developments in cognate areas of studies, within and beyond sociology and political science. While structured around traditional social movement concepts, each section combines the mapping of the state of the art with attempts to broaden our knowledge of social movements beyond classic theoretical agendas, and to identify the contribution that social movement studies can give to other fields of knowledge. The Handbook starts by presenting some of the main core theoretical perspectives in the field. A section exploring some of the major social transformations that have recently affected social movements is then followed by one devoted to the analysis of micro dynamics of collective action. At the meso-level, movements’ cultures, organizational models, and repertoires of action are covered. Finally, the last sections address the political and non-political opportunities for social movements’ development, as well as at social movements’ effects on their environment.
Communities often experience contention when confronted with environmental threats and diverging interpretations of risk. Contested illness research often describes the emotional expression of individuals without analyzing how these emotions connect to larger social factors such as sense of community, gender, and assumptions about an emotion–logic dichotomy. This research incorporates the sociology of emotion to explore how the social construction of emotions influences dissension in a contested illness case. I investigate the case of The Acreage, Florida where a cancer cluster was established but an environmental cause was not found. This paper discusses how the sense of community and gender role expectations gave rise to expressions of fear, anger, and grief using data drawn from 57 in-depth interviews of current and former residents of The Acreage. Findings suggest that disparate ‘feeling rules’ related to one’s sense of community, perceptions of what neighbors feel, and gendered notions of emotion and logic contribute to community dissension. This paper thus identifies conditions that give rise to divergent emotional experiences and expressions that exacerbate community dissension. © 2016
Rural landscapes in many parts of the world are experiencing increasing pressure from competing uses. One particular use, unconventional natural gas extraction, has received considerable attention over the past decade owing to its rapid growth and associated impacts on rural landscapes. This study examined how a sample of Australian rural residents experienced the processes of psychological stress induced by a coal seam gas project that created perceived undesirable changes to resources they valued. Its effect on residents’ psychological well-being slowly unfolded over several years. We deconstructed the stress processes by investigating primary appraisal, secondary appraisal, and subsequent emotional and coping responses guided by the cognitive theory of stress and coping. Primary appraisal measured how the impacts of change on personal and communal resources were assessed while secondary appraisal gauged the options available to individuals to cope. Our results show that when primary appraisal alerts individuals of resource loss, negative emotions are more likely experienced. Such an appraisal directly drives engagement in eight coping strategies classified into four categories: problem-focused, support-based, emotion-focused, and maladaptive coping. It also motivates coping indirectly except for one strategy of emotion-focused coping mediated by negative emotions. While secondary appraisal also directly contributes to four coping strategies that each pertains to one of the four coping categories, it has no effect on negative emotions and four remaining coping strategies that are emotion-focused and maladaptive. These findings shed light on our understanding of the psychological consequences of undesirable change of land use on rural communities. Implications for land use policy are discussed with an emphasis on the need for considering a holistic perspective on the multi-dimensional nature of rural resources valued by community residents and establishing procedural fairness and legitimacy for proposed changes.
This article examines social mobilisation against coal seam gas and coal mining in country New South Wales. While environmental concerns are one of the motivations behind recent mobilisations, the alliances that are emerging bring together groups with a diversity of interests and ideological orientation. Disappointment with political elites and concerns with lack of transparency and public accountability, are setting the foundations for new forms of grassroots collaboration. Against the widespread notion of depoliticisation in Western liberal democracies, I argue that the growth in community mobilisation in country Australia reveals a more dynamic relationship with politics, one that requires differentiating the more rigid spaces within political institutions, from the political field more broadly.