Global Civil Society and International Summits: New Labels for Different Types of Activism at the COP15

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Research in the field of citizenship, civil society, and social movements in relation to larger democratic summits has either focused on radical confrontational elements of activism, broad public demonstrations, or the professional non-governmental organizations. In this article, I label the types of activist groups involved in and around the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen (2009). My proposition is that such a categorization may help to refine the general debate through more nuanced distinctions and accurate definitions and provide a better understanding of why the creative elements seem to take a central role in today’s activist landscape. I develop these typological conceptual representations based on an understanding of civil society as a mediating catalyst. By presenting six versions of citizenship participation based on an analysis of diverse ends and means, I identify how each of them has their own specific logic about the democratic challenges surrounding the summit. This analysis leads me to address the question of whether an attempt to bridge the gap between the official system and the active citizen through a distinction between antagonistic and negotiation-friendly forms of activism is fruitful. In conclusion, the creative activist is revealed as a mediating figure in civil society pointing towards a new definition of ‘facilitating citizenship’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Civil Society
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)407 - 426
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2011

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