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Xaquin Perez-Sindin


Topic: Symbolic power, gender and the double paradox of social acceptability of energy project

Keywords: Bourdieu, symbolic power, gender, large scale energy projects, social acceptance


This study describes the strong socio-economic transformation within a highly mine-impacted rural region in Galicia, in the northwest of Spain. In the light of visual analysis of posters announcing the most popular regional cultural event, it throw into sharp relief the rapid change in the symbol system of the community where traditional elements are replace by the new industrial reality in a matter of years after the beginning of the mining activity and construction of a coal fired power plant. When compared to other mine-impacted rural areas in Galicia, the social reaction was lower despite the greater impact. The analysis performed shows a double perverse paradox: first, the poorer social groups (former farmers) are now the main supporters of keeping coal-fired power plant open in a context of deindustrialization. Secondly, despite the strong masculinization of the labour market (see very low female force participation), there is a use of gender both in the self-representation of the community in the cultural event posters and in the community mobilization against the cessation of the mining activity. By bringing both gender perspective and the Bourdieu concept of symbolic power and dominance, this article argues that the acceptance and legitimation of certain energy projects may hide profound process of cultural dominantion, identity deconstruction and spatial unjustice. It also claims a sociology of socio-historical perception, i.e. how the (politically biased) perception of the region history legitimizes long-lasting inequalities, the innefficiency of the neoliberal policies of economic revitalization in the postindustrial period and the understimation of agriculture as an alternative economic path.

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