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Mobilizing at the Frontier: Framing Social Justice Claims in a Natural Resources Management Project in Rondônia, Brazil

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Drawing on critical development studies and social movements literatures, this article analyzes how civil-society actors used practical and ideological resources to frame their situations in mobilizing for change. Focusing on a case study of a World Bank-sponsored natural resources management project in Rondo^nia, Brazil, I examine how the discourse and policies promoting “participatory, sustainable development” have been used to achieve resource conservation, and to promote social justice aims within the current neo-liberal policy framework. Based on document analysis and in-depth interviews with civil-society actors, I argue that Rondo^nia nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and grass-roots movements successfully mobilized by effectively framing their demands and by forming strong “movement webs” with national and transnational civil-society actors. The case study also explores the divergence in approach and objectives between local NGOs and grass-roots movements, illustrating the practical and political limitations to implementing participatory and sustainable development projects.

Keywords: natural resources management project; participatory development; social movements; sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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