Global Dialogue: How Transnational Advocacy Networks Create Alternative Codes

By Raúl Acosta.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Any dialogue requires a common ground through the use of codes for understanding. Social movements have had a strong influence in bringing certain issues to the public sphere. From their experience stems a new type of informal structure, however, that seems to be gaining momentum in the global political sphere. It is the ‘transnational advocacy network’, which brings together different organizations that did not use to work together: social movements, non-governmental organizations, epistemic communities, alternative media, among others. Through concerted efforts to combine contrasting expertise and organizational levels, these webs of action have become channels to distribute relevant knowledge about common problems to improve the quality of dialogues towards their solution. It is an example of the rise of collaboration through the linking of efforts and understandings. The World Social Forum is an example of this type of network, in that its purpose is to advocate for an alternative global development through the enhancement of organized citizen participation. This paper aims to analyze the way in which advocacy networks negotiate codes to offer alternative understandings to official versions of reality. It is based on a twofold set of advocacy network research: 1) my doctoral research on two sets of such webs, one in the Brazilian Amazon, and another in the Mediterranean; and 2) an ongoing study of the World Social Forum, of which I have attended five international meetings: two in Porto Alegre (2003 and 2005), one each in Mumbai (2004), in Caracas (2006), and in Belém (2009). Both paths have allowed me to put forward a typology of advocacy networks and to reflect on the role of the network structure as a dynamic enhancer of increased dialogue and participation.

Keywords: Advocacy Networks, Dialogue, Codes, Communication, Public Sphere

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.181-196. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.214MB).

Dr. Raúl Acosta

Lecturer, researcher, Department of Sociocultural Studies, ITESO, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

After finishing his doctoral degree in Social Anthropology at Oxford University in 2007, Dr. Acosta currently works as a lecturer and researcher at ITESO, a private university in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. He has given seminars at the universities of Manchester, Sussex, Oxford, and Frei (Berlin). For recent research projects, he has been funded by Conacyt, the Mexican research board. His interests lie mainly in understandings of what is public, political activism, advocacy networks, and solidarity.

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