What can we learn about collective action across Central and Eastern Europe by focusing on activism within urban spaces? This volume argues that the recent resurgence of urban grassroots mobilisation represents a new phase in the development of post-socialist civil societies and that these civil societies have significantly more vitality than is commonly perceived. The case studies here reflect the diversity and complexity of post-socialist urban movements, capturing also the extent to which the laboratory of urban politics is richly illustrative of the complex nexus of state-society-market relations within post-socialism. The grassroots campaigns and actions reflect the new social cleavages and increased polarisation as a consequence of neoliberal urbanisation and global integration, as well as the transformation of state power and authority in the region. Studying urban activism in Central and Eastern Europe is instructive for urban movements scholars generally, as it forces us to acknowledge the variety of forms that contention can take and the usefulness of embedding the study of urban movements within a larger understanding of civil society.
Kerstin Jacobsson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She is co-editor of Beyond NGO-ization: The Development of Social Movements in Central and Eastern Europe.
"If you want to learn about the resurgence of urban activism in CEE countries and understand their distinctive features, frames, and practices, seek no longer. This volume brings together excellent case studies, including local versions of Right to the City activism, revealing how these varied mobilisations are uniquely shaped by a state-socialist past and neoliberalising present. In explicating the social meaning of urban activism in the CEE context, the book opens up possibilities for innovative theorising on urban movements." – Margit Mayer, Center for Metropolitan Studies, TU Berlin, Germany
"Urban Grassroots Movements in Central and Eastern Europe takes on new constituencies previously left out of the literature: bicyclists in Belgrade, the elderly in Ukraine, car drivers in Kaliningrad, tenants in Poland, youth in Vilnius, and protectors of architectural heritage in Bucharest. It is also not confined to those who self-identify as undertaking political actions, as many of these newly activated groups of citizens see their efforts – ranging from guarding dachas, street performances, Critical Mass rides and protecting public spaces from privatised development – as apolitical. The result is a fuller picture of the ways in which citizens in the region express their interests to political elites, in contrast to previous views of atomised and distrustful citizens and weak and anemic civil societies measured in numbers of formally registered NGOs. Jacobsson and colleagues’ work is an overdue breath of fresh air to the field." – Merrill Sovner. Eastern European Politics
"Urban Grassroots Movements in Central and Eastern Europe is not important only for scholars interested in social movements, but provides a good starting point for urban studies and civil society studies scholars who are interested in the post-socialist landscape in a region characterized by rapid economic (neo)liberalization, profound state reforms and ab