In this comparative study, we explore why environmental movements against two neoliberal water transfer projects emerged and how they work in different political economies—a hegemonic capitalist democracy (Colorado, US) and a centralized authoritarian capitalist system (Iran). We apply Polanyi’s and Gramsci’s political–economic theories, using interviews and document analysis to examine and compare movement framing and mobilization and resistance strategies and tactics through this lens. The existing social movement literature leads us to expect fundamental differences, but although we find some differences, particularly in tactics, we find that these environmental movements have unexpected similarities in terms of framing and resistance strategies. Additionally, in both cases, outcomes remain uncertain despite the ostensibly large differences in political opportunities. In Colorado, project developers and social protesters may reach a compromise agreement through the civil society channel of the courts. In Iran, with a centralized state suppressing opponents whereas the project threatens local people’s livelihoods, the environmental movement has assumed a more radical face.
- environmental counter-movements (ECM)
- political economy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)