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Dr Oscar Berglund

Biography

My research is located within the field of Critical Political Economy. It looks at political contestation of policy processes including both non-violent contestation by social movements and parliamentary forms of contestation. My research draws on a historical materialist theoretical framework with a focus on political agency and contestation. I am particularly interested in how social movements use civil disobedience as a way of achieving their aims.

I am currently exploring how climate change activists are using civil disobedience, how they justify their law-breaking and the effect that this has on climate change policy and politics.

My PhD thesis analysed the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH, Platform for the Mortgage-Affected) and examined how it contests austerity. PAH is an anti-eviction housing movement and its growth is innately linked to the depth and nature of the Spanish housing crisis where half a million households have been evicted since 2008. The movement employs a wide range of forms of protest and political contestation against both capital and state actors in its campaigns for the right to housing. Drawing upon a historical materialist conceptual framework, the thesis used a combination of observations, semi-structured interviews and analysis of PAH-produced documents and secondary sources to explore the PAH’s contestation of austerity at different levels. Ultimately the thesis made the case that PAH is an actor that contests austerity, and whose prospects of realising its demands are tied up with the broader Spanish and Catalonian political landscape. The thesis argued that PAH’s successes are in large part due to the way in which it has developed a model of politicisation which works to attract people affected by the housing crisis to become political activists; and the way in which a discourse of civil disobedience allows PAH to use innovative and illegal forms of protest as part of a political campaign enjoying high levels of legitimacy.