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Rural development and the politics of fracking in Europe

Working Group 18: Rural development and the politics of fracking in Europe

Elisabet Rasch, Michiel Kohne
Wageningen University, The Netherlands

This working group explores ideas and practices of rural development in relation to and as a consequence of fracking. In many countries in Europe governments together with industrial partners promote fracking as a way of extracting shale gas, considering this as a way of ‘development'. Fracking operations are ongoing or under consideration in several countries all over the world. Fracking as an extraction process has huge consequences for inhabitants in the area and their livelihood strategies and access to land. At the same time, rural communities have not been involved in the decision making processes about whether and where to frack.

As the use of fracking has increased, so have environmentalist concerns over dangers of pollution, groundwater contamination, and the postponement of energy transition. In many countries (The Netherlands, England, Romania, South Africa, to name a few) citizens have organised against fracking. They build up their arguments around environmental issues, as well as issues of citizenship. Proponents of fracking consider shale gas a safe and profitable energy source. Both proponents and opponents make extensive use of different sources and forms of information and knowledge to build up their argument.

In the working group we would like to explore the politics of shale gas from the point of view of rural communities facing the consequences of (future) fracking. We invite papers that explore this rural development-fracking nexus, linking it with themes as economic policies, energy battles, social movements and citizenship, framing and legitimating discourses, property rights issues and the ‘disasterisation' of fracking. We are also interested in papers that explore the role that social scientist can play when it comes to the societal debate on fracking and its consequences. Does this problematic call for more action-oriented research and how can we envision this?

We plan to make an edited volume out of selected papers of this panel.