During the last twenty years, the advocacy has established itself in the world of international organizations as in the field of academic research. This dossier explores the historicity, forms and actors of this type of mobilization and its consequences. Read More
Discrete Mobilizations: Advocacy and Several
Transformations of Contemporary Collective Action
Although studies of mobilization have given little attention to advocacy, its practice has elsewhere been the object of conflicting analysis. Some see the proliferation of jobs for "advocates" – salaried employees specifically charged with promoting the political line of the associations that employ them – as a sign of profound transformation. According to this group, the appearance of non-governmental actors with close ties to government is a source of major change for collective action and the political sphere. Others, however, regard the proximity of these forms of action to classic interest groups and political leaders as proof that advocates should be considered lobbyists. The present article draws upon an ethnographic study to examine these theories of the transformative advocate and non-differentiation. The view according to which advocacy constitutes a particular form of lobbying does not allow one to grasp the mechanisms by which this practice spreads and sometimes succeeds. The claim that advocates and lobbyists are much the same also neglects the structural asymmetry between these two groups. This observation calls for bringing greater complexity to bear upon the theory of non-differentiation and serves to qualify the enthusiastic statements of those who defend the idea of the transformational potential of these practices and the "power of NGOs" in the twenty-first century.
The Career of Anti-Debt Advocacy within Jubilee
USA: Controversies and (Re)Definition of Activist “Best Practices”
This study of the anti-debt coalition USA Jubilee addresses the relationship between advocacy and discursive moderation by examining advocacy as a practice “in tension” and, more precisely, by considering the influence of the at once real and supposed constraints of internal and external acceptability that shape the advocates' action. Despite their technical veneer, the controversies that divide the coalition represent occasions for exploring and negotiating the acceptable forms of collective action.
Juliana Lima and Sara Dezalay
The Transitional Justice “Cause” in Post-Conflict Burundi
Collective action in Burundi is constrained at two levels: locally and internationally. Faced with a hardening stance on the part of the regime and the complex and ambiguous relations between political power, local civil society and foreign diplomacies, mobilizations to promote transitional justice are part of a dynamic of accommodation between local policies and international prescriptions/practices. An examination of the rhetoric and modus operandi of the Burundi Reflection Group on Transitional Justice shows how the constraints entailed by the Burundi context affect the strategies, forms of action and effectiveness of transitional justice advocacy. Moreover, the meaning that the actors give to their involvement within the collective reveals the manner in which the circulation of knowledge and practices affects dynamics of professionalization among those involved in the establishment of transitional justice proceedings.
An Oblique Appropriation of Advocacy: La Vía Campesina's Defense and Promotion of “Peasants’ Rights” in the United Nations
In recent years, the international peasant movement, La Vía Campesina, has sought to transcribe the “peasant cause” into law. In response to rights violations in the countryside – civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural – an effort was launched to demand that the Human Rights Council adopt an “International Convention on Peasants Rights”. By studying the case of La Vía Campesina, one may underscore the kind of skills and alliances needed by activists (who are initially wary of the risk of dispossession that is entailed by recourse to a more expert and institutional repertory of action) in order to implement their advocacy strategy within UN bodies. Light is thus shed on the ways in which this strategy of collective action may benefit from the involvement of La Vía Campesina members, even as it creates tensions and dilemmas relating to the possible de-radicalization of the cause.
Astroturf and NGO of Teleguided Consumers in Brussels: When Business Creates Legitimacy “from Below”
Astroturf is a process by which firms generate mobilizations. Though taking the form of NGOs comprised of “ordinary” citizens, they are nevertheless paid for by private funds and in the service of commercial ends. Often sponsored by multinational firms or employer federations with logistical assistance from public relations agencies, these NGOs seek to pass off industry positions as disinterested or consumer-driven speech in the public sphere. An increasing number of specialized firms now offer to launch a “consumers’ movement” (including defensive scenarios in the event of discovery) as part of their standard services. In examining the social dynamics and constraints that determine recourse to this type of service among multinational firms, I draw upon several extant studies of the subject as well as an ethnographic case study.
Jean-Baptiste Harguindéguy, Romain Pasquier and Alistair Cole
Spanish Territorial Governance and the Challenge of Economic Crisis: Towards Recentralization?
Has the economic crisis modified the political equilibria of Spanish territorial governance? Everything seems to suggest that this system is experiencing two forms of stress: centripetal and centrifugal. The centripetal dynamic is driven by the public debt and the necessity with which the central state is confronted to retake control of regional public finances. The centrifugal dynamic, for its part, is reflected in a refusal on the part of some regional executives – first and foremost, those of the Catalan government – to cooperate with this silent recentralization. On the contrary, they demand greater financial autonomy, which may lead to de facto independence. Spain is therefore a state generally tending towards federalism but in which the conjunction of political equilibria (national and regional) and the ups and downs of the economy have provoked major instability. In this respect, the upcoming elections will offer a key moment for understanding the evolution of the politico-territorial system. More than ever, the state of autonomies finds itself at a crossroads. ■
An Investigation into the Frontiers of Politics in the Islamic Republic of Iran: The Azerbaijani Cause
One of the characteristics of politics in Iran is the regime’s ability to resist mobilization. The present article examines this phenomenon via the politicization of the Azerbaijani cause, which developed its own way of addressing politics and protest in the years that followed the end of the war between Iran and Iraq. In a context marked by overinvestment of the cultural sphere, there was a major revival of efforts to win heritage status for Azerbaijani culture. This allowed activists from different backgrounds to become involved in the Azerbaijani cause in order to transgress spaces of activity. Their arrival in the mobilization led to an unprecedented politicization of the ethnic movement, which developed new resources for political participation. Nevertheless, the extension of ethnic activities was met by repression on the part of the state authorities, who sought to keep the Azerbaijani cause on the political margins.
Changing Identities in Northern Cyprus: Turkish Cypriots Faced with Turkish Immigration
As territories possessing internal sovereignty but lacking international recognition, de facto states are often apprehended from the outside on the basis of geopolitical factors. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is thus generally considered through the lens of its relationships with the Republic of Cyprus (Greek) and Turkey. An approach based on semidirective interviews with political actors and ordinary citizens sheds new light on this entity. In particular, it allows one to study the dynamics of social cleavage between Turkish immigrants and Turkish Cypriots, a fundamental issue that allows one to explain the evolution of feelings of belonging to the Cypriot identity and the Turkish nation.