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How European protest transforms institutions of the public sphere : discourse and decision-making in the European Social Forum process

Wie europäischer Protest Institutionen des öffentlichen Raums verändert : Diskurs und Entscheidungsfindung im Prozess des Europäischen Sozialforums
[working paper]

Doerr, Nicole

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Corporate Editor Freie Universität Berlin, FB Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Otto-Suhr-Institut für Politikwissenschaft Kolleg-Forschergruppe "The Transformative Power of Europe"
Abstract "Against the background of the alleged democratic deficit of EU institutions, this case study explores how politicization and emerging transnational public spaces in European protest movements innovate existing practices of discursive or grassroots deliberative democracy in national social movements. I studied the European Social Forum (ESF) process, a transnational participatory democracy platform created by civil society groups and social movement organizations. I explored discourse and decision-making in the small-scale European Assemblies in which hundreds of activists have met six times a year since 2002 to organize the ESFs, and form campaigns on issues such as global and social justice, peace, climate change, migration, health, or education. Comparing activists' democratic norms and discourse practices in these frequently occurring European Assemblies with social forum assemblies at the national level in Germany, Italy and the UK, I arrived at a surprising result: European Assemblies reflect a higher degree of discursive inclusivity, dialogue and transparency in decision-making and discussion compared to national social forum assemblies. In this paper I discuss structural, strategic and cultural changes that occur in the process of a Europeanization "from below", that is, when social movement activists work together transnationally across a certain time period. I argue that European protest as a form of contentious Europeanization has developed new social practices and actors that innovate existing practices of participatory democracy at the national level, showing the relevance of social movements to democratize European integration." (author's abstract)
Keywords EU; social movement; civil society; non-governmental organization; participation; democratization; social justice; decision making; transnationalization; protest movement; Europeanization
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; European Politics
Method descriptive study
Free Keywords Transnational Public Spaces; ESF; European Social Forum; participatory democracy
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
City Berlin
Page/Pages 28 p.
Series KFG Working Paper Series, 8
ISSN 1868-7601
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications