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Title: Unpacking differential empowerment : civil society mobilisation in the EU accession process
Author: Wunsch, N. L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 736X
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Can civil society actors use the EU accession process to empower themselves at the domestic level? Comparing civil society mobilisation in the rule of law across Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, this thesis demonstrates that the strategic usage of EU-related shifts in the political opportunity structure have allowed civil society actors to strengthen their position in two regards. First, they were able to enhance their formal involvement in domestic policy-making by pushing collectively for improved consultation procedures and devising innovative extra-institutional mobilisation formats to feed into the ongoing reform process. Second, and to a more limited extent, they succeeded in shaping a number of substantial policy outcomes thanks to effective framing and the uploading of demands into the EU’s conditionality. The empirical analysis builds on extensive fieldwork combining semi-directive interviews, participant observation and documentary analysis. Combining social movement theory and Europeanisation research, the thesis puts forward a theoretical framework that integrates both structural shifts induced by the Europeanisation process and the role of domestic agency in recognizing new opportunities and transforming them into domestic impact. In contrast to earlier critical studies, it suggests that professionalisation was crucial in enabling civil society actors to build the capacities and expertise necessary to feed into domestic policy-making processes. At the same time, the empirical findings show how an overreliance upon EU leverage may be effective in the short run, but lacks sustainability for long-term empowerment once EU pressures subside in the post-accession phase. Finally, the comparative analysis of mobilisation strategies across three country case studies highlights the importance of transnational learning, whereby the disappointing experience of Croatian civil society actors decisively informed the approach adopted by their counterparts in Montenegro and Serbia, leading to their earlier and more promising involvement from the early stages of the accession negotiations.
Supervisor: Gordy, E. ; Reh, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available