In defence of the local? Urban grassroots movements in the Stockholm Periphery
Sociology Södertörn University Huddinge, Sweden
The implications of the new global restructuring process under neoliberal flag has been described in terms of parallel processes of increased integration and greater fragmentation between different regions and scales. The limited ability of nation states to regulate and control this unequal development has led to a rediscovery of civil society as an alternative political arena and a new source of identity, solidarity, coordination, control and regulation. The novelty of the contemporary civil society discourse is that civil society has "gone global", i.e. through transnational networks, the global spatial scale has become the primary scale for resistance and alternative visions. Although, an excessive curiosity of the "new" always include limitations. In this case, a unilateral focus on the new, both in terms of new social movements and the global scale mean that research tends to ignore the contextual embedding and the relationship between stability and change. Furthermore, another consequence may be that other scales are reduced to the victims and the activism conducted there is viewed as particularistic or reactionary. Additionally, the voices and strategies of the most affected by the new global order are overlooked due to that new social movements primary engage the educated middle classes. With a perspective that advocate the need for civil society research that both considerate aspects of "scaling up" and "scaling down" the empirical basis of this article is grassroots organizing at the local level in the Swedish urban periphery. The Swedish context is particularly interesting, since the relations between state and civil society in Sweden has a heritage of a specific form of close cooperation. The article shows in relation to what is discussed as a growing global civil society that is also possible to identify a parallel trend of increased fragmentation and the localization of the civil society. By taking over traditional forms of organization and participation at the local level, but without the hierarchical structure of local, regional and national relations and further more reformulate the content, new formations is created that argue for rights and inclusion both inside and outside Sweden's borders.