Mobilizing Community Energy

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What explains the galvanising of communities to participate actively in energy projects? How do groups mobilize to overcome the often formidable barriers highlighted in the existing literature? Drawing on original qualitative research of 100 community energy groups in Scotland, including six in-depth case studies, we explain how effective mobilization occurs and the political dynamics surrounding such mobilization. To capture these dynamics, we adapt theories offered by literature on social movements, with a particular focus on resource mobilization theories. Applying our adapted framework, we identify two particular sets of resources shaping community energy mobilization: (i) structural resources, which refer to the broad political context structuring and constraining opportunities for community energy mobilization; and (ii) symbolic resources—less tangible resources used to galvanise participants. We investigate to what extent our case study groups were able to draw upon and exploit these resources. We find that structural resources can either facilitate or hinder mobilization; what matters is how state resources are exploited and constraints mitigated. The use of symbolic resources was highly effective in aiding mobilization. Each of the groups examined – despite their considerable variation – effectively exploited symbolic resources such as shared identity or desire for strong, self reliant communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-444
JournalEnergy Policy
Issue numberDecember 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Community energy
  • Resource mobilization
  • Scotland


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