Donatella della Porta

Democrazia in movimento: partecipazione e deliberazione nel movimento "per la globalizzazione dal basso"

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This article analyses the conceptions of democracies in the global justice movement. The Porto Alegre participatory budgeting as well as the World Social Forum in the same Brazilian city are presented as illustrations of the relevance of participatory and deliberative models of democracy for social movements. In particular, deliberative and participatory democracy is defined as a process in which, under conditions of equality, inclusiveness and transparency, a communicative process based on reason (the strength of the good argument) is able to transform individual preferences and reach decisions oriented to the public good. The central part of the article is then structured along these six dimensions, discussing how they are framed by the activists of the global justice movement: which are the emerging normative values and how are democratic practices in the global justice movement assessed by the activists. Attention focuses then on the inclusive structure of the movement, the emphasis upon subjectivity, the reach for a new public sphere (a "polis" in the activists' word), the role of reason/s, the development of consensual method, the positive stress on "contamination" between different collective identities. On each dimension, the empirical evidences on the Italian social forums include: discourse analysis of documents, participant observation, surveys, in-depth interviews, and especially focus groups. In the conclusion, the author calls for a sociological approach to internal practices of democracy that goes beyond the dominant, instrumental vision, taking into account their symbolic meanings.

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