The debate on deliberative democracy could open a fruitful perspective for research on social movement conceptions and practices of democracy. This article reports a pilot study of the values and norms that guide the global justice movement's organizational choices based upon focus groups and in-depth interviews with participants in various Italian social forums. Deliberative democracy, which emphasizes participation and the quality of communication, is particularly relevant for a multifaceted, heterogeneous movement that incorporates many social, generational, and ideological groups as well as movement organizations from different countries. The global justice movement—a "movement of movements" according to some activists—comprises a dense network of movement organizations, often the product of previous protest cycles. It builds upon past experiences of organizational institutionalization, but also upon reflexive criticisms of it. These networks of networks provide important resources, but also pose challenges for participation and internal communication. The activists in our study addressed these challenges by building an organizational culture that stressed diversity rather than homogeneity; subjectivity, rather than obedience to organizational demands; transparency, even at the cost of effectiveness; open confrontations oriented to consensus building over efficient decision making; and "ideological contamination" rather than dogmatism. Traditional participatory models of democracy are bridged with concerns for good communication and deliberation.
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Research Article| February 21 2006
Making The Polis: Social Forums and Democracy in The Global Justice Movement
Mobilization: An International Quarterly (2005) 10 (1): 73–94.
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Donatella Porta; Making The Polis: Social Forums and Democracy in The Global Justice Movement. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 1 February 2005; 10 (1): 73–94. doi: https://doi.org/10.17813/maiq.10.1.vg717358676hh1q6
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