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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Civil Society and the Paralyzed State: Mobilizing for democracy in East Germany

Daniel P. Ritter

Type: Working Paper
Year: 2012

Among cases of transition to democracy from below, the East German one constitutes a particularly challenging puzzle. Whereas social movements taking advantage of an oppositional space within a repressive context have preceded many transitions, the East German case shows little evidence of such large-scale prior opposition. Even when compared to other Eastern European transitions, East Germany is unique in that no major opposition group existed prior to the revolution. Still, civil society groups did play important roles in East Germany in the 1980s. Despite being unable to challenge the regime, they began to create the political space necessary for a protest culture to emerge. In fact, the development of civil society groups assumed an almost evolutionary character as religious groups gave way for peace and environmental movements that eventually transformed in turn into democratization initiatives. This report seeks to highlight some of the most important civil society tendencies present in the GDR and to situate them in the domestic and international contexts that made a mass-based push for democratization possible in the fall of 1989. Furthermore, the report argues that the relative lack of coherent civil society organizations makes the East German transition to democracy a pure example of democratization from below, as opposition elites had little impact on the progression of the revolution.
EUI SPS - Cosmos Working Paper 2012/06

2012WP06COSMOS

News

14/09/2018

Andrea Pirro appointed as new editor of East European Politics

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Andrea Pirro has been recently appointed as new editor of the journal East European Politics published by Taylor and Francis.

31/08/2018

Volkswagen foundation Grant 2018 for Manuela Caiani

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Manuela Caiani has been awarded the Volkswagen Grant 2018 for the research project Popular Music as a Medium for the Mainstreaming of Populist Ideologies in Europe, that will be directed by Mario Dunkel (University Carl von Ossietzky of Oldenburg, Germany).

30/07/2018

ERC Starting Grant 2018 for Alice Mattoni

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Alice Mattoni, Research Fellow at COSMOS and Assistant Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore, has been awarded the ERC Starting Grant 2018 for the research project BIT-ACT: Bottom-up initiative and anti-corruption technologies: how citizens use ICTs to fight corruption.

Publications

Journal Article - 2018

New Technologies as a Neglected Social Movement Outcome: The Case of Activism against Animal Experimentation

Manès Weisskircher
Based on novel empirical research, this paper analyzes a crucial and understudied case of a movement pushing for new technologies: the animal rights movement and its efforts to push for alternatives to animal experimentation.

Journal Article - 2018

Mobilizing in transnational contentious spaces: linking relations, emotions and space in migrant activism

Elias Steinhilper
The article illustrates how the transnational spaces most migrants inhabit can be politicized and transformed into particular social formations, for which the term ‘transnational contentious spaces’ is suggested.