“Lay down our differences” : An interpretive study of problem representation(s) and inclusion in Extinction Rebellion

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Previous research on social movements shows that as a consequence of social stratification, structurally privileged groups in society are more prone to engage in and take on leading positions in collective action than those who are structurally marginalised. This essay takes off in the puzzle of deficient inclusion in social movements that identify as inclusive, and looks at how that problem also appear empirically in the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR). As attention to environmental issues and climate activism has increased significantly over the last years, many activists and scholars have pointed out the importance of tackling the problem with an intersectional feminist approach. Therefore, an interpretive discourse analysis with a “What’s the Problem Represented to be?” (WPR) approach is applied to the strategically chosen case of XR, and the results are interpreted through an intersectional feminist lens as conceptualised by Angela Davis (1981, 2016). The analysis contributes to the research problem through identifying two parallel problem representations, one representing the problem as proximate, local and technical-environmental and one representing it as current, global and societal-environmental. It is concluded that part of XR’s discourse rests on a problem representation that risks reproducing structural power relations. According to Davis’s conceptualisation of intersectional feminism this could have dire consequences for a movement which has shown to have potential to influence politics. 

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