These are findings

Leitner et al. (2008) describe five main aspects of spatiality that should be accounted for in any analysis of a social movement or instance contentious politics (e.g. resistance): place, scale, networks, positionality and mobility. In keeping with their wishes to avoid anointing a master frame, I shall take this opportunity to describe how each of these concepts have appeared in relation to the case and in particular, my guiding research question: how does the materiality of of coal fired power plants affect the spatial distribution of resistance?

Materiality’s effect on the role of place is perhaps best described in my previous blog post titled “Virginia’s Bullseye.” Basically, the projected place-based distribution of effects, both positive and negative from the proposed plant, interact with local politics so as to create a bulls-eye image of support. The center of the bulls-eye features high levels of support while the surrounding rings feature low levels of support/high levels of opposition. Please see the previous post for a greater/more in depth description.

The second spatiality, scale, is affected by the materiality of the plant by delineating the plain of engagement for opposition and supporting groups. To construct a power plant, at least in Virginia, there a are a number of different steps that must be completed and addressed before construction can begin. Given the regulator landscape and the interests involve, these steps occur at different scales (e.g. hyperlocal, local, state, national). As the permitting/construction process trundles along, the scale of interest, that is, the scale of engagement changes as a direct result of the requirements to build the plant.

Thirdly, the presence of networks have been observed and loosely traced. Perhaps most interestingly, the main opposition groups have created a formal coalition (with its own staff, website etc.) to coordinate efforts of environmental organizations across the state. Although the network aspect of spatiality has not been the focus of our data mining, it is an interesting facet nevertheless. I expect that networks will play a greater role as more interviews are conducted (better to trace the connections).

Fourth, positionality is revealed by looking at the hierarchies of permitting organizations involved in the construction process. For example, the first level of permitting (local/hyperlocal) has a hugely important role. Without this initial approval, any plan is dead in the water. That said, the construction requires upwards of 50 permits, all of critical importance. Thus, when looking at positionality of permits, the strict hierarchy is primarily temporal whereas the power of the relative permits is equitable (e.g. all are necessary).

Finally, mobility is evidenced through the movement of actors to different locations and meetings. This includes opponents showing up in force at community meetings to declare their opposition and exhorting the board in question to share their views– with varying degrees of success.

Clearly (at least I hope so), coal plants interact with spatialities in interesting ways that are often times different from traditional locally unwanted land uses.