This report presents the initial findings of the ‘Subterranean Politics’ research project, based on seven contextual case studies carried out by researchers from partner institutions across Europe; for a full listing please see the page on Contextual Research Reports.
This is one of those rare moments in history when subterranean politics ‘bubbles up’ to the surface. What we mean by subterranean politics is politics that is not usually visible in mainstream political debates. The current demonstrations, protests and occupations, or new social initiatives of various kinds are probably less joined up, more heterogeneous and not even bigger than similar phenomena that our research on Global Civil Society has tracked over the last decade. But what is special about subterranean politics in 2011 and 2012 is their ‘resonance’, the way that they strike a chord in mainstream public opinion.
The Subterranean Politics in Europe project pursued a dual strategy. First, we set out to map initiatives for reforming or transforming the European Union. Secondly, we investigated a variety of social mobilizations and collective activities across Europe that we call ‘subterranean politics’, in order to find out what they are about and how they relate to ideas about Europe. Since there was very little overlap between the two prongs of the strategy, our findings about European initiatives are included in Appendix A, while the main body of the report focuses on subterranean politics. In order to research subterranean politics, we undertook seven contextual case studies – four national studies (Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain), one global city (London), and two trans-European studies (one focused on trans-European grassroots initiatives and one focused on trans-European initiatives and anti-austerity movements).