Keywords: water agreement, Civic Action, Po, prefiguration, scene styles.
This paper explores the emerging forms of water socialisation promoted by
civil society actors through grassroots initiatives. The analysis focuses on the
case study of the Manifesto for the Po, a heterogeneous civic network established
in May 2017 to attract political attention to the need for integrated
management to protect the river Po. The analysis focuses on the tensions that
the observed grassroots «mobilisation» faces in pursuing its institution-building
goals. According to the prefiguration hypothesis adopted, such tensions – namely,
the way they are addressed and managed in everyday settings – anticipate the
emerging forms of the new water agreements being pursued. The main research
finding shows the same tensions arose in two recurrent action dilemmas, which
depended on the styles of civic action practiced by the Manifesto for the Po.
The analysis of this experience of civil society presented here thus reveals how
recent policy recommendations to stimulate civic participation translate into
at least two types of commonising process, through which water socialisation
develops from the bottom up. The discussion stresses how these types are neither
mutually exclusive nor equally ready to be included in governance arenas.