Civil Societies & Uncivil Times: The Rubberband Ball of Transnational Tensions

Callan, Brian. 2016. Civil Societies & Uncivil Times: The Rubberband Ball of Transnational Tensions. Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest, 4(1-2), pp. 1-14. ISSN 2572-7184 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article introduces a special issue of Contention Journal addressing various contemporary mobilisations of civil society in response to the war in Syria and the migration of refugees into Europe. With contributions from Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Canada, the Czech Republic and Germany, the cases represent a breadth of multidisciplinary approaches and a variety of stylistic standpoints, from statistical media analysis to troubled personal reflections of engaged activist academics. The subject matter ranges from political mobilisation against authoritarianism and austerity, transnational philanthropy, the emergence of local grassroots voluntary aid to right-wing populist nationalism. Though diverse, a coherent narrative is seen to converge around the refugee crisis as it unfolds in Europe; one of radical polarisation within civil societies and starkly conflicting imaginaries of social futures that claim to preclude the legitimacy of other possibilities. At the same time alliances are being generated beyond borders in an attempt to bolster ideological capacity, authority and force. This is not a clash of civilisations but the rubber band ball of transnational tension, a strained, chaotic and overlapping global contestation. At stake is the understanding of what a civil society should be.

Item Type:



Civil society, refugees, austerity, populism, social movements

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


1 June 2016Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Mar 2018 10:58

Last Modified:

01 Jun 2018 08:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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