‘Local’ Organizing and ‘Global’ Struggles: Coalition-Building for Social Justice in the Americas
With the multiplication of mass demonstrations for global justice – Seattle, World Trade Organization (WTO), Quebec City, Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) – ‘global civil society’ has become a popular concept among academic, activist, and government circles, and among citizens in many countries.1 The ‘revival’ of civil society was first associated with Poland’s Solidarnosc movement. It extended to other East European and Latin American groups which were similarly challenging authoritarian regimes (Cohen and Arato 1992). The United Nations world summits on global issues like population and gender also marked the explosion of civil society, especially ‘globally’. Ann Florini notes that mega-gatherings of governmental representatives ‘spurred the development of a stronger, more integrated transnational civil society’, especially since the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, when ‘accredited NGOs outnumber[ed] governmental delegations two to one’ (Foster and Anand 1999; Florini 2001: 37). Both phenomena led many scholars to describe civil society in opposition to the state, seeking autonomy. I contend that these two spheres are in continual interaction, mutually shaping each other.
KeywordsCivil Society Free Trade World Trade Organization Civil Society Actor Global Justice
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