Civil Society and Social Movements Programme Paper 19: The Contemporary Global Social Movements: Emergent Proposals, Connectivity and Development Implications
28 Oct 2005
Several global movements - including debt relief, trade barriers, Tobin tax, anticorruption and fair trade - have attained international significance, attracting considerable attention from the public, the media and policy-making circles. This paper looks at these five movements and assesses their organizational structures, social bases, claims, methods of action and results.
The author finds that although governments, bilateral bodies and international development institutions are beginning to pay more attention to such reformist transnational movements, this has not resulted in significant policy impacts. He writes that there are major ideological limitations of the system to readily accommodate such demands.
The author suggests that while the influence of these movements has increased, their actions remain spontaneous and informal, with a low level of institutionalization. At the same time, there are few signs of stable interactions between formal political bodies and social movements. Internal divisions persist between reformist and radical forces within the movements themselves, these and the “anti-globalization” movement as a whole have come under increased financial pressure, and their social base remains unstable.
Kléber B. Ghimire is Research Coordinator at UNRISD. This paper was initially prepared as a background document for the UNRISD research project on Global Civil Society Movements: Dynamics in International Campaigns and National Implementation.
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