After an apparent temporary relief, the financial crisis is back full steam. The ‘double dip’ has turned into a full-blown meltdown of financial markets, public budgets and, by and large, democratic accountability. This global crisis is a fundamental wake-up call: a signal that our conventional political economy and, perhaps, the very foundations of our societies need a serious rethink. Currently, the spotlight is on the role of political elites and economic agents (especially the investors included in the vague notion of ‘markets’) and their strategies to stabilize or destabilize countries, from North America to the Eurozone. Regrettably, the actual and potential role of civil society is hardly mentioned in public debate. Yet, it is exactly within civil society that important responses to the crisis may emerge. It is within civil society that an alternative paradigm and a fundamental rethinking of conventional wisdom may be fostered. Citizens vs. Markets is the first book to unpack the transformative role of civil society in a sector in which it has traditionally been less proactive, in order to reflect on possible forms of social transformation that are not merely remedial but also constructive in nature. This is the most important struggle of our times.
This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Civil Society.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction – Accountability, democracy and sustainability: what role for civil society? Part 1 – Explaining the crisis: three approaches 2. Civil Society and Financial Markets: What is Not Happening and Why 3. Democracy Lost: The Financial Crisis in Europe and the Role of Civil Society 4. Rethinking the Role of the Economy and Financial Markets Part 2 – What civil society? What response? 5. The Role of Civil Society in Holding Financial Powers Accountable 6. From ‘Corruption’ to ‘Democracy’: Cultural Values, Mobilization, and the Collective Identity of the Occupy Movement 7. Civil and Uncivil Actors for a Degrowth Society 8. Civil Society, Crisis, and Change: Towards a Theoretical Framework
Lorenzo Fioramonti is Jean Monnet Chair in Regional Integration and Governance Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pretoria (South Africa), where he directs the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation.
Ekkehard Thümler is Project Director at the Centre for Social Investment of Heidelberg University (Germany).