This project focused upon forms of participatory democracy elaborated ‘from below’ and implemented both in the internal organization of social movements and in experiments with deliberative decision-making. In particular, the project analyzed the issue of active democracy emerging in the theories and practices of movements demanding a ‘globalization from below’.
Social movements criticize the fundamentals of conventional practices of politics, and experiment with new models of democracy both in their internal structure and in the ways in which they interact with political institutions. Of particular interest for the project were the conceptions and practices of democracy developed in the global movement/s mobilizing transnationally and demanding social justice and participatory democracy.
The ensuing debate about democracy is particularly relevant both for the development of civil society, and for the legitimization of political institutions at local, national and supranational levels. Our research – focusing on six European countries (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), as well as the EU itself – embraced an analysis of documents pertaining to both movements and public institutions, websites, semi-structured interviews with Non-Governmental Organizations and public administrators, surveys of movement activists, participant observation of movement groups and experiences of participatory decision-making.