Economic Crisis: Editors’ Note and Contents

Vol 4, No 1 (2013): The European Economic Crisis, Civil Society and Resistance 

In December 2012, the President of the European Council published a roadmap towards a “deep and genuine economic and monetary union” in which member states are subject to deeper coordination, endorsement and surveillance. This report represents the European Union’s official response to assuage the severe spillover effects of a financial crisis that has shaken labour markets, social welfare institutions, liberal democratic systems and even the identity of citizens all across Europe.

Like the European Semester financial policy or the austerity measures established in Greece and Spain, the “genuine economic and monetary union” blueprint is one of many hasty efforts that top European Union decision-makers have assembled since 2008 without the participation of parliaments or citizens.   Moreover, the report contains an inner logic that inherently favours free market solutions, which proved ineffective at preventing the European economic crisis in the first place.

Top decision-makers at both the national and European levels have shown their path dependency, falling back on old, ineffective approaches to recover from the on-going economic crisis in Europe. A look on the ground, however, reveals that many Europeans – including academics, artists and opinion leaders – have come up with innovative strategies to get through the crisis. Some have even learned and benefited from it.

Crises do not only create problems for those hit hardest and most vulnerable to hardship. They also challenge the status quo, stimulating debate on issues that were previously taken for granted and allowing for developments that may have been previously unthinkable. Crises challenge existing systems – not only the financial system, but democratic systems as well. They also question conventional wisdom and its defenders. When such shifts take place, citizens have a unique chance to introduce novel ideas that can progress their communities and perhaps society more generally.

In this issue of Open Citizenship, titled “The European Economic Crisis, Civil Society & Resistance”, a major theme among our contributions is the notion of crisis as opportunity. That is, civil society should view the on-going economic crisis in Europe as a window of opportunity? To do what? For our authors, it’s an opportunity to advocate financial regulation with teeth, to strengthen a European identity, to experiment with alternative forms of governance or to formulate a coherent, communicable vision for the European project.

We have also shaken up the status quo at Open Citizenship. In our case, we have introduced a new design treatment, a new style for academic contributions that we call “academic essays” and a new section called “Your move”, which provides additional information in the form of books, upcoming events and resources. These changes are meant to make the journal more useful to our readers.

We invite you to comment on the new format, to react to the ideas you find in these pages, to join the conversation with our authors and in your community, to find input for your own projects and to submit an article for an upcoming issue of Open Citizenship

Your CFE team

Table of Contents


  • The impact of the crisis on civil society organisations in the EU: risks and opportunities, Jamal Shahin, Alison E. Woodward, Georgios Terzis
  • Make it or break it: what is civil society’s role in European democracy after the financial crisis?, Jakob Hensing, Christine Hübner, Jan Eichhorn
  • People versus politicians: the political aftermath of the financial crisis in Iceland, Stefanía Óskarsdóttir
  • How to strengthen the voice of civil society with the strategic use of language: Linguistic distinction as a discursive strategy in a crisis, Eric Wallis


  • Purpose beyond power, Wolfgang H. Reinicke
  • Innovating democracy in times of crisis: solution or utopia?, Peter Vermeersch
  • Crowdfunding and civic society in Europe: a profitable partnership?, Matthew Hollow
  • What comes after democracy?, Marianne Maeckelbergh
  • Ending the honeymoon: constructing Europe beyond the market, Moritz Hartmann, Floris de Witte


  • We need political communality to protect the euro, David Marsh
  • Social movements in historical perspective, Donnatella della Porta
  • Documentaries as civil society response to the Greek debt crisis, Aris Chatzistefanou

Movement Watch

  • Finance Watch: a counter-lobby for the financial industry, Finance Watch
  • Teatro Valle Occupato, Teatro Valle Occupato
  • Complementary currencies that empower communities and small businesses, Yasuyuki Hirota