Social Change Introduction
This theme examines complex contemporary change mechanisms in civil society, focusing on local processes as well as globally-connected civic movements that are a crucial part of shifting power dynamics. Organized communities and individuals, operating through formal and informal mechanisms and supported by information and communication technologies, are reshaping the spectrum of opportunities and challenges in the public sphere. Citizens increasingly organize themselves from local to transnational arenas.
Globalization and modernization has been challenged by countermovements, from local uprisings to mass civic revolt. At community levels, self-organization is gaining recurring importance for the security of livelihoods. Such upsurges expose citizens’ capabilities and need to express their voices in politics and the global economy, and to take control over their own lives in a globalized world.
With the Social Change theme, The Broker wishes to enrich the analysis on such dynamics by connecting civil society movements, community governance, policy-makers, development institutions and academia. This means a focus on the role of traditional institutions (for example governments, political parties, NGOs, trade unions) and increasing their responsiveness to citizens’ concerns is required. It also entails questioning development models on their ability to answer citizen’s demands and exploring alternatives to governance models from local and community perspectives. Also, increasing the means for citizens to hold their governments accountable and to rise up against the erosion of fundamental rights is necessary. At the same time, this has also exposed the need to move beyond exclusive state-centred and representative conceptions of democracy, and to find new ways to reflect citizen’s voices in global governance.