Chapter

From ‘New Spirit’ to New Steel-Hard Casing? Civil Society Actors, Capitalism, and Crisis: The Case of Attac in Europe

Silke Ötsch, Pier Paolo Pasqualoni and Alan Scott

in New Spirits of Capitalism?

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199595341
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191750755 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199595341.003.0010
From ‘New Spirit’ to New Steel-Hard Casing? Civil Society Actors, Capitalism, and Crisis: The Case of Attac in Europe

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This chapter focuses on a less frequently discussed aspect of the New Spirit of Capitalism: its analysis of the potential for a renewal of capitalism critique emerging out of, and in reaction against, the project cité. We take up this theme via a case study: the globalization critical/alter-globalization social movements Attac, which started in France as a response to the Asia crisis in the late 1990s and rapidly spread to become a significant movement, particularly in Continental Europe. The chapter offers both an analysis of this social movement organization (SMO) and an examination of the opportunities and dilemmas it faces in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. With respect to the latter, the chapter examines the increasing reliance on policy instruments as a mode of governance. This, we argue, has significantly altered the context and opportunity structures in which social movement organizations and NGOs must operate. We conclude by suggesting that the current context requires less an examination of capitalism's new ‘spirit’ than of its new ‘steal-hard casing,’ better known as the iron cage.

Keywords: Attac; Boltanski and Chiapello; civil society actors; 2008 financial crisis; policy instruments; social movement organizations (SMOs)

Chapter.  9211 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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