After an apparent temporary relief, the financial crisis is back full steam. Thedouble 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 ofmarkets ) 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.
1. Introduction � Accountability, democracy and sustainability: what role for civil society? Lorenzo Fioramonti, University of Pretoria (South Africa) and Ekkehard Thuemler, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
Part 1 � Explaining the crisis: three approaches
2. Civil society and global finance: lack of voice and public accountability Jan Aart Scholte, University of Warwick (UK)
3. Democracy lost: the global financial crisis and the failure of neo-liberalism Mario Pianta, University of Urbino (Italy)
4. Rethinking the role of the economy and the nature of money Tony Greenham, New Economics Foundation (UK)
Part 2 � What civil society? What response?
5. The role of civil society in holding financial powers accountable Thierry Philipponat, Finance Watch (Belgium)
6. The occupy movement and the framing of the financial crisis in the public sphere Thomas Kern and Sang-hiu Nam, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
7. What is Degrowth? From an activist slogan to a social movement Federico Demaria, Universitat Aut�a de Barcelona (Spain)
8. Conclusion: Civil society and the future of our societies Lorenzo Fioramonti, University of Pretoria (South Africa) and Ekkehard Thuemler, University of Heidelberg (Germany)