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Accepted Paper:

The contestation of wind energy in Germany and the discursive construction of a 'people's movement': Analysing local conflicts about wind energy use  
Bleta Arifi (Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg) Georg Winkel (European Forest Institute)

Paper short abstract:

This paper approaches wind energy conflicts in the Soon and Taunus forests (Germany) through a discourse-analytical lens, focussing on the discursive strategies and processes of subject-formation of competing discourse coalitions.

Paper long abstract:

Wind energy has taken centre stage in the more recent commitments of the German government to phase out nuclear energy and shift towards renewable energy technologies. The expansion of wind energy infrastructure from agricultural flatlands into forested mountain areas has ignited protest and lead to the establishment of hundreds of civil initiatives fighting against planned wind parks in their proximity and beyond.

In this paper we compare the conflict over the Ellern Wind Park in the rural and structurally-weak Rhein-Hunsr├╝ck region (Rheinland-Palatinate) with the conflict over the planned Hohe Wurzel Wind Park on the Taunus, nearby the affluent city of Wiesbaden (Hesse). Drawing on operationalisations of the Foucauldian concepts of discourse, power-relations/knowledge and subjectification in the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse and the Discursive Agency Approach, we approach wind energy conflicts as struggles between competing discourse coalitions.

Based on a data corpus consisting of 28 fully-transcribed semi-structured interviews with key actors, participant observation and ca. 100 policy documents, information materials and videos, our interpretive analysis identifies the discourse coalitions and sheds light upon their shifting strategies. We discuss the networking of local initiatives into regional and federal structures and their shift towards knowledge-claims that challenge the basis of the current pro wind policies. Finally, we link subjectification processes to the discursive elements (re)produced in the analysed debates. We show how wind energy opponents are rejecting delegitimizing subject-positions by constructing counter-hegemonic subjectivities, expressed i.a. in their identification as a nationwide people's movement for 'ideology-free' energy policy-making.

Panel T046
New Technologies, social practices and social conflict - sustainable energy transitions as a field of contention
  Session 1 Saturday 3 September, 2016, -