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This post is provided by our guest blogger Ingo Nordmann. Having gained his Master’s degree in Global Studies in Leipzig, Poland, and South Africa, Ingo has worked at the German embassy in Ghana and in intercultural management consulting.
If you’re 28 years old, with two university degrees, and your parents have invested all their money in your education, and you’ve done everything that was expected of you: if society then tells you, ‘sorry, we don’t have a job for you’, then it’s easy to understand why people revolt. We have to give young people hope. In Europe, the world’s richest continent, there has to be a place for young people, damn it!
With these words, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, describes the heart of the problem. Most young, unemployed Europeans are not marginalized, deprived, and lazy, but they live in the centre of society – a society that seems to have no use for them. This is particularly the case in some Soutern European countries such as Greece and Spain where unemployemnt rates for young people are over 50% as compared to currently 8% in Germany. Youngsters from countries outside of the EU face even more severe challenges on the job market.
Recently, I went to the Balkans to gather some impressions from the beautiful, but often-neglected Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In the country’s second-largest city, Bitola, situated close to the Greek border on the foots of Pelister National Park, I talked to young people, to officials at the municipality, and to activists at the Business Start-up Centre Bitola, to find out how young people in this region evaluate the situation and what the government and NGOs are doing to change it.
During a training course supported by the EU’s Youth in Action Programme and YMCA Bitola, I had the chance to interview 22 young activists, volunteers, youth workers, and students between the ages of 21 and 28 from 10 countries. They mainly came from countries outside of the EU, namely Albania (3), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2), Kosovo (2), Macedonia (3), Serbia (2), and Turkey (3), while seven were from EU countries (Romania, Portugal, Poland, and Slovenia). Read the rest of this entry »
Just recently the renowned Göttinger Institute for Democratic Research has published a remarkable study on the motives of protest movements in Germany (“The new power of citizens”). While the book reveals interesting insights about who protests and why in 2012, it itself triggered public criticism – not for its content, but for who financed the study – the international petrol company BP. This triggered a larger debate about the role of transnational companies as financiers of research particularly into activism, which is occasionally also directed against such companies. Are research results used by companies to democratize economic projects or rather to further the economization of democratic concerns of citizens?
Several contributions in this blog have discussed different forms of transnational labor rights activism, transnational modes of governing working conditions in global supply chains and their local consequences. In all these contributions, the structural reasons for a core concerns of workers – their low income (“poverty wages”) have not been discussed. In a very recent paper (“expanding repertoires of labor: multi-scalar counterstrategies in the Asian garment industry” which will be presented at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin on the 8th of October 2012), Jeroen Merk and Sabrina Zajak discuss the reasons behind poverty wages across Asian countries, reasons which make multi-scalar strategies of labor necessary to counter these problems. A brief summary shall be given next. Read the rest of this entry »
Bordercrossing books: Transnational activism as deliberative democratic agency? Insights from Mundo Yang’s “Deliberative Politik von unten”
September 13, 2012 in Book Review, Miscellaneous Governance Issues, Transnational Studies | Tags: deliberation, deliberative democracy, social movements, transnational governance | by sabrinazajak | Leave a comment
The question whether and how NGOs or transnational social movements can be considered as productive parts of something like a global democratic governance or even an evolving cosmopolitical order has bothered many scholars sofar. In absence of a fixed nation state framework, including clear-cut geographical representation chains, some scholars even deny the attempt to understand transnational activism as a form of promoting democracy across borders.
“Deliberative Politik von unten” is not genuinely dealing with transnationalism in specific. However, I suggest the innovative research method is worth taking a serious look at for all researchers which are interested in measuring deliberation in transnational small groups settings; this book helps one to go transnational with Habermas. Read the rest of this entry »
The theme of transnational governance has become again a hot topic at this years’ conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE). The SASE’s 24th Annual Meeting is taking places at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge on June 28-30, 2012. It brings together academics from various disciplinary backgrounds to discuss the issue of “Global Shifts Implications for Business, Government and Labour”. One of the mini conference themes within SASE (“Regulating Labor and Environment: Beyond the Public-Private Divide“) explicitly deals with the dynamics and impacts of transnational governance arrangements and their relationship towards national regulation (see also other recent blog entry).
This mini conference brings together a variety of contributions dealing with the question of how transnational standards are effectively enforced locally. While several contributions discuss the “top down” implementation of rules one panel in particular looks at the domestic mobilization of private and state regulation. The panel “mobilization of private and state regulation” addresses the question of the relationship between state and other forms of regulation by examining how citizens and communities make use of and try to mobilize national and extraterritorial judicial, non-judicial and/or voluntary mechanisms in order to seek redress for local grievances: Scholars present ample empirical evidence from different countries and continents including China, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Brazil and discuss the following questions:
How do local societal actors make use of and employ transnational and national regulation? When do local actors fail in their attempts to mobilize domestic and transnational regulation, and why? And in general, what do we learn about the role of domestic citizens, workers or non-governmental organizations for putting regulatory regimes into practice and broader contextual conditions which either enhance local redress mechanisms, or undermine their capacity to address grievances?
This is the third and final part of a small series of blog posts presenting the empirical findings of a study about the Pirate Party movement, which Leonhard and I carried out in January 2012. In particular, we aimed at exploring the transnational context of the German pirate party. Previous posts dealt with the State of the Pirate Party Movement and Issues and Campaigning. This time we are dealing with local organizational ties of Pirate Parties.
Local embeddedness of Pirate Parties is not only important in terms of issues and campaigning but also with respect to (inter-)organizational relations. In our brief survey, almost every registered Pirate Party (13 of 14) reported ties to partner organizations at the local or regional level. Together with lower barriers to entry in local representative bodies, this localization strategy also tends to result in better election results at lower political levels (see Figures 1 and 2).
Figure 1: Average election result in % of registered Pirate Parties by level (2006 – 2011)
Figure 2: Number of elected officials by level (2006 – 2011)
In addition to the development of local branches, the sampled parties mostly operate within a local network of organizational supporters and partners. The majority of registered parties named local branches of active NGOs, including organizations operating transnationally such as Wikimedia and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as local activist groups as well as think tanks (see Figure 3). Read the rest of this entry »
Last week we started a small series of blog posts presenting our empirical findings of a study about the Pirate Party movement which Leonhard and I carried out in January 2012 (see “Transnational Pirates #1“). In particular we aimed at exploring the transnational context of the German pirate party. We understand transnationality as the combination of practices of actors who are simultaneously engaged in a global context and local network.
We operationalized the local context of Pirate Parties in three dimensions: the local roots of issues, the (inter-)organizational embeddedness in the local, and related to the latter the participation in elections (we will come back to that in Part 3 of the series). We intended to reveal how the parties build on various local opportunity structures and adapt to different local conditions. The following analysis focuses on our sample of 14 officially registered Pirate Parties.
The integration into both a global and a specific local network can be shown in terms of themes and issues pursued by the respective Pirate Parties. Asking for the rationale for establishing a national Pirate Party in the first place paints a rather consistent picture. While this was an open question, all 14 registered parties only refered to four main objectives:
- Pursuit of themes of the global Pirate Party movement in their respective countries (8)
- Transformation of political structures, towards more transparency and participation (8)
- To live up to earlier success and attention of Pirate Parties (7)
- To tie on concrete political issues in their respective countries (6)
As Leonhard has written on this blog some days ago, the recent success of the Pirate Party in the Saarland state election in Germany is remarkable. The Pirates received 7,4 percent of the votes right from the start. Just days after the election, the party has even raised its acceptance on the federal level. Current opinion polls count them at 12 percent among German voters.
In addtion to its success in regional elections, the German Pirate Party also consciously operates within a transnational context. The transnational perspective of the German pirates can be illustrated with a recent statement of Bernd Schlömer, vice chair of Pirate Party Germany, who points out that his party is part of a global movement. This movement, Schlömer added, might help to develop international positions, for example, on Foreign Affairs and Security Policies issues, which then could be brought back into national politics.
This recent example illustrates the two perspectives of the transnational context of the Pirate Party movement, which Leonhard and I aimed to further examine in a study pursued in January 2012, which will appear as a book chapter in the German edited volume “Unter Piraten“.
We would like to present our empirical findings in three short posts, starting with a general description of the project, the data collection and first results concerning the state of the global Pirate Party movement. We will then move on to post #2 on Issues and Campaigning and post #3 on Global Movement and Local Networks. Read the rest of this entry »
The anti-sweatshop movement has been revitalizing and exploring a new form of localized transnational collective action: A Peoples’ Tribunal on the Minimum Living Wage and Decent Working in Cambodia. The idea of People’s Tribunals is not new and has originated in the human rights area. Among the first international People’s Tribunals, which examines and provides judgments on violations of human rights was the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal founded in 1976 in Italy. Since then People’s Tribunals have spread as an action repertoire for human rights activists through a range of countries in order to promote justice and mobilize victims of human rights abuses independently of the state judiciary. Its goals have been about popularizing the notion of justice; educating the public; encouraging debate on human rights issues and democratizing legal processes. Therewith it is a legalistic, but soft instrument to provide justice in cases where the state has failed to do so.
In the area of labor rights violations, it is a rather new adoption of this instrument. In Cambodia it has been used to investigate the violation of labor rights, in particular the poverty payment. Its aim it to improve the working conditions and raise the wage level in in the Cambodian garment industry.
Last week consumers around world learned about the place our mobile phones, ipods, iPads and PlayStations are produced: In production facilities in China, owned by a Taiwanese company called Foxconn, which produces for brands such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Dell. Consumers learned that Foxconn is the biggest producer of electronic goods, employs over 400.000 workers in the Shenzhen province, 11 workers committed suicide this year. Consumers also learned that the official annual suicide rate in China is 13 per 100,000 workers. And Terry Gou, the founder of Foxconn recapitulates that his factory is below the official norm.
The rising protest inside China but also abroad which followed these tragic incidents, reveal a lot about the new dynamics in the fight for improvements of working conditions in Chinese factories: a dynamic which combines strong local critique, which does not leave the government untouched, with international outrage against the major customers.