Les dimensions silencieuses de l'acceptabilité sociale en contexte autochtone

Authors: Fortin, Julie
Advisor: Rodon, ThierryMillette, Josianne
Abstract: This thesis proposes an analysis of the silent dimensions of social acceptability in an indigenous context, which can limit the communities' capacity for deliberation and negotiation. From an industry perspective, the notion of "social license to operate" is used to legitimize projects by promoting notions of dialogue and consensus. However, despite the significant advances that have been made through the adoption of international standards on social responsibility, compliance with commitments is sometimes lacking, particularly in the case of junior exploration companies. Indeed, the precariousness of these companies, the fact that they are less scrutinized than their well-established counterparts, and their need to quickly gain public support in order to convince investors, cause significant pressure on local communities and place them in a vulnerable position, especially if they have limited resources. Furthermore, profit sharing with communities and financing of infrastructure, by compensating for the shortcomings of the state, creates a relationship of economic dependence and contributes to the deterioration of the social fabric of communities. Finally, despite the promotion of dialogue by both government and industry, community members who want to participate in the negotiations must adopt the corporate discourse, a requirement that has the effect of excluding certain issues and individuals from the discussions, such as women, youth and people with more traditional lifestyles. In the field of public relations, despite the proliferation of dialogue-based theoretical models, none of them adequately capture the asymmetrical power relations between actors in a realistic and empirical way, from the perspective of the publics. Our research aims to fill this gap by proposing three ideal-types that illustrate the relationships between Indigenous communities and mining companies. More specifically, the overall objective of this thesis is to understand how, in the context of mining projects in the exploration phase, the negotiation and deliberation capacity of indigenous communities is influenced by the power relations between actors, the perception of the project, the emotions generated, as well as the impacts of the project on social cohesion. These elements are characterized as silent dimensions of social acceptability in an indigenous context. This research is in line with the epistemological posture of critical pragmatism, inspired by Dewey's social philosophy. This posture aims on the one hand to highlight the power relations that limit the capacity of expression and emancipation of individuals, and on the other hand to restore their lived experience, with a view to nourishing critical reflection and supporting their democratic capacity. In this perspective, our theoretical perspective is deployed on three axes. The first, rooted in socio-cultural approaches to public relations, allows us to analyze the "silent registers" of power deployed by the mining industry to ensure its legitimacy, notably lobbying campaigns and social responsibility programs. The second axis allows us to make a socio-historical analysis by addressing colonial policies in Canada, as well as the strategies of adaptation, resistance and resilience put in place by Indigenous peoples. Finally, the third axis, more rooted in social psychology and anthropology, deals with emotions, how they are influenced by culture and environmental upheavals, as well as their different modes of expression in an indigenous context. From the perspective of decolonizing research, our theoretical framework mobilizes the work of many Indigenous scholars in a variety of disciplines such as psychology, social work, anthropology, Native studies, environmental sciences and cultural geography. This thesis consists of two case studies, the Cree community of Nemaska and the Inuit village of Aupaluk. In collaboration with local organizations, data was collected through semi-structured interviews, participant observation, a survey, a focus group and document analysis. A typological analysis allowed us to situate the data collected within the broader historical, structural and social context from which it emerged and to identify three ideal-types of relationships between mining companies and indigenous communities: forced union, benefactor and control shift. These three relational ideal-types fill a gap in the literature on social acceptability and dialogical approaches to public relations and present a more complex and nuanced picture of the relationships between indigenous communities and the mining industry. Finally, these three ideal-types provide analytical grids for judging the nature of a community's consent to a project, a central dimension of social acceptability.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2022
Open Access Date: 2 May 2022
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/73283
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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