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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Deliberative Democracy and Social Movements. Transition Initiatives in the Public Sphere

Andrea Felicetti

By offering a critical assessment of deliberation in social movement organisations, this study identifies key aspects affecting their ability to pursue democratic deliberation and sheds new light on the role of community actors in deliberative democracy.

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Type: Monograph
Year: 2016

Deliberative democracy is increasingly central in democratic theory and its concepts are employed in a growing number of fields, including social movement studies and environmental politics. At the same time, contemporary citizen activism seems to feature some forms of engagement that resonate with deliberative democratic ideas.This book provides an in-depth investigation of the qualities of citizens’ engagement from a deliberative democratic standpoint. The key concept through which such qualities are investigated is ‘deliberative capacity’, the extent to which organisations host authentic, inclusive, and consequential discursive processes. This book is based on a comparative study of four grassroots local initiatives, two from Australia (in Tasmania and Queensland) and two from Italy (in Emilia-Romagna and Sicily).By offering a critical assessment of deliberation in social movement organisations, this study identifies key aspects affecting their ability to pursue democratic deliberation and sheds new light on the role of community actors in deliberative democracy.

 

Reviews

Integrating deliberative democratic theory and empirical analysis, Deliberative Democracy and Social Movements offers a fresh analysis of the Transition movement through case studies in Australia and Italy. Felicetti methodically and contextually examines the deliberative capacity of each case study in terms of authenticity, inclusivity, and social impact. In so doing the book represents a significant advance in both deliberative democratic theory and social movement analysis of sustainability oriented active citizenship initiatives. Deliberative Democracy and Social Movements is a pioneering study, the first attempt to map and conceptualise ‘deliberative opportunity structures’ and deliberative capacity.

John Barry, Professor of Green Political Economy, Queens University Belfast

Andrea Felicetti finds a potential for public deliberation within social movements seeking to forestall climate change through community activism. This ‘Transition’ movement can, at times, create authentic, inclusive, and consequential spaces for public debate. By studying four cases with varied results, Felicetti helps us see how social movements can dovetail with the more abstract aims of deliberative democracy to transform simultaneously environmental policy and politics itself.

John Gastil, Senior Scholar at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Penn State University

Andrea Felicetti has used a rare combination of theoretical frameworks and qualitative research to produce something that few other works on deliberative democracy can offer: real guidance for activists who want to be both democratic and effective, and real-world tests of theorists’ ideals. This book will be valuable not only to deliberative democrats, but social movement scholars and activists alike.

John Parkinson, Professor of Politics, Griffith University

Andrea Felicetti (2016). Deliberative Democracy and Social Movements. Transition Initiatives in the Public Sphere, London: Rowman & Littlefield International

http://www.rowmaninternational.com/books/deliberative-democracy-and-social-movements

News

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

24/09/2017

New Publication Out - "Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis"

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A timely publication to shed light on the link between social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash and the referendums' dynamic and results.

25/08/2017

Donatella Della Porta con Yanis Varoufakis alla 13esima conferenza ESA

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Wednesday, August 30th (8pm-9.30pm) professor della Porta, who directs the Center on Social Movement Studies(Cosmos), will dialogue with Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister of Finance during the first Tsipras government, about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies

Publications

Monograph - 2018

Social Movements and Civil War : When Protests for Democratization Fail

Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker , Bogumila Hall , Emin Poljarevic
This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization. The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements' struggles for democracy ends up in civil war.

Monograph - 2017

Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis

Donatella Della Porta, Francis O'Connor, Martin Portos and Anna Subirats Ribas
Out now "Social movements and referendum from below", the first book that bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. It draws on social movement theory to understand the nature of popular mobilisation in referendums using unique case studies such as the referendum on independence in Scotland, the consultations on independence in Catalonia, the Italian referendum on water, the referendum on the Troika proposals in Greece and the referendum on the debt repayment in Iceland.