Call for papers Volume 1 Issue 2 (November 2009): Civil Society vs Social Movements

Interface is a new journal produced twice yearly by activists and academics around the world in response to the development and increased visibility of social movements in the last few years – and the immense amount of knowledge generated in this process. This knowledge is created across the globe, and in many contexts and a variety of ways, and it constitutes an incredibly valuable resource for the further development of social movements. Interface responds to this need, as a tool to help our movements learn from each other’s struggles.

Interface is a forum bringing together activists from different movements and different countries, researchers working with movements, and progressive academics from various countries to contribute to the production of knowledge that can help us gain insights across movements and issues, across continents and cultures, and across theoretical and disciplinary traditions. To this end, Interface seeks to develop analysis and knowledge that allow lessons to be learned from specific movement processes and experiences and translated into a form useful for other movements.

We invite both formal research (qualitative and quantitative) and practically-grounded work on all aspects of social movements. In doing so, we welcome contributions by movement participants and academics who are developing movement-relevant theory and research. Our goal is to include material that can be used in a range of ways by movements – in terms of its content, its language, its purpose and its form.

We are seeking work in a range of different formats, such as conventional articles, review essays, facilitated discussions and interviews, action notes, teaching notes, key documents and analysis, book reviews – and beyond (see details in the guidelines for contributors). Research contributions are reviewed by both activist and academic peers, other material is sympathetically edited by peers, and the editorial process generally will be geared towards assisting authors to find ways of expressing their understanding, so that we all can be heard across geographical, social and political distances.

Our first issue, published in January 2009, focussed on the theme of “movement knowledge”: what we know, how we create knowledge, what we do with it and how it can make a difference either in movement struggles or in creating a different and better world.

Our second issue, to be published in September 2009, will have space for general articles on all aspects of understanding social movements, as well as a special themed section on “civil society versus social movements”. By this we mean the increasing tension between officially-approved versions of popular participation in politics geared towards the mobilisation of consent for neo-liberalism – the world of consultation and participation, NGOs and partnership – and the less polite and polished world of people’s attempts to participate in politics on their own terms, in their own forms and for their own purposes – social movements, popular protest, direct action, and so on. In drawing this distinction, we realise that civil society organisations and social movements often have complex and contradictory practices and relationships which do not fit into two clearly distinguished categories. One of the objectives of this edition is not therefore to impose a straightjacket on reflections and analysis of these different types of participation but rather to open up discussion and strategic thinking between activists, movement participants and researchers working in different contexts and with different experiences.

The types of questions and experiences we are interested in exploring include (but are not limited to):

– To what extent do social movements and civil society organisations exist in an antagonistic and conflictual relationship?

– Are there examples in which this relationship can become constructive for the struggle for popular democracy and social justice?

– What can particular experiences of these types of participation tell us about the possibilities and limitations for the development and strengthening of popular resistance to neoliberalism?

– How can we develop theory and practice that overcomes the often idealistic notion that NGOs are always actors that foster social justice?

– How can we overcome the often simplistic critique of NGOs as the ‘trojan horses of neoliberalism’?

– What can the experiences of workers and participants in civil society organisations tell us about the nature of domination and resistance?

The deadline for contributions for the second issue is May 15th, 2009. Please contact the appropriate editor if you are thinking of submitting an article. You can access the journal and get further details at .

Interface is programmatically multilingual: at present we can accept and review submissions in Catalan, Croatian, Danish, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Maltese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. We are also willing to try and find suitable referees for submissions in other languages, but cannot guarantee that at this point.

We are also very much looking for activists or academics interested in becoming part of Interface, particularly with the African, South Asian, Spanish-speaking Latin American, East and Central European, Mediterranean, Oceanian and North American groups. If you are interested, please contact the relevant editors: details here.