The Political Context of Collective Action: Power, Argumentation and Democracy

The Political Context of Collective Action: Power, Argumentation and Democracy

The Political Context of Collective Action: Power, Argumentation and Democracy

The Political Context of Collective Action: Power, Argumentation and Democracy

Synopsis

The study of social and popular movements continues to attract great interest, but little is known of political activity which takes place outside of traditional political structures. Tnis volume looks at informal political action which arises when conventional frameworks, such as those provided by welfare states, are in crisis or decline. At such times the usual expectations about politcal action may not apply, so what actually goes on? Greatly expanding the scope for research into collective action, this volume will be of great interest to students and researchers of politics and sociology interested in this important area.

Excerpt

It goes almost without saying that Collective Action is a crucially important concept in Political Science. Not only because Collective Action occurs and takes place at all levels of politics in any society, but also because it is the basis for understanding the emergence and viability of formal as well as informal types of political action. However, it must be noted that most theories and analysis of types of Collective Action in relation to the working of politics in a democratic society tend to focus almost exclusively on well-established actors in political systems: parties, encompassing interest organizations, special interest groups, trade unions, business associations, etc. These types of socio-political actors are-in particular in liberal democracies-integrated into the systems and may well be explained on the basis of, for example, rational choice theories and neo-institutional approaches. Partly, this is a consequence of their being part and parcel of the formal structure of those democracies. Hence, there appears little need to focus on their external relations (i.e. outside the political system), since their societal basis (members, voters, supporters, etc.) are formally organized and-almost by definition-regulated by means of the institutional devices that make up such a system. Yet, however valuable these studies and concurrent analyses are, they tend to overlook, or even exclude types of Collective Action and related political action which take place in civil society on the meso-level of public life and related types of informal, more or less spontaneous types and forms of Collective Action. in other words: many of the extant approaches to understanding the important linkage between Civil Society and Public Governance appear to neglect a large part of (f)actual politics in society and therefore are not capable of understanding how, when and where non-established informally driven and sometimes non-recognized Collective Action occurs and takes place.

This volume in the European Political Science Series is an attempt to fill this apparent gap in the literature. It does not only take issue with existing approaches and concurrent concepts of Collective Action, but it also offers alternative theoretical and methodological insights as well as empirical evidence on the basis of qualitative case analysis. in doing so we can not only learn more about what is going on the meso-level in societies regarding

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