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Encyclopedia > Global Citizens Movement

A global citizens movement refers to a number of organized and overlapping citizens groups who seek to influence public policy often with the hope of establishing global solidarity on an issue. Such efforts have include advocacy on ecological sustainability, corporate responsibility, social justice and similar progressive issues.

In most discussions, the global citizens movement is a socio-political process rather than a political organization or party structure. The term is often used synonymously with the anti-globalization movement, the movement of movements, or the global justice movement.[1] Colloquially the term is also used in this imprecise manner. Anti-WEF grafiti in Lausanne. ... Movement of Movements is a term used to describe the loose grouping which is often called the Anti-globalization movement. ... The term Global Justice Movement is an alternative term to describe the loose collection of individuals and groups who advocate fair international trading rules and are critical of current institutions of global economic governance - like the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. ...

In theoretical discussions of social movements,[2] global citizens movement refers to a complex and unprecedented phenomena made possible by the unique subjective and objective conditions of the planetary phase of civilization. The term is used to distinguish the latent potential for a profound shift in values among an aware and engaged citizenry from existing transnational citizens movements[3] which tend to focus on specific issues (such as the anti-war movement). Social movements are broader political associations focussed on specific issues. ... The Planetary Phase of Civilization is a concept defined by the Global scenario group (GSG), an environmental organization that specializes in scenario analysis and forecasting. ... The global peace movement refers to a sense of common purpose among organizations that seek to end wars and minimize inter-human violence, usually through pacifism, non-violent resistance, diplomacy, boycott, moral purchasing and demonstrating. ...



The concept of a global citizen first emerged among the Greek Cynics in the 4th Century BC, who coined the term “cosmopolitan” – meaning citizen of the world. The Roman Stoics later elaborated on the concept. The contemporary concept of cosmopolitanism, which proposes that all individuals belong to a single moral community, has gained a new salience as scholars examine the ethical requirements of the planetary phase of civilization.[4] This article is about the ancient Greek school of philosophy. ... Look up cosmopolitan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A restored Stoa in Athens, from which the name is derived. ... Cosmopolitanism is the idea that all of humanity belongs to a single moral community. ... The Planetary Phase of Civilization is a concept defined by the Global scenario group (GSG), an environmental organization that specializes in scenario analysis and forecasting. ...

The idea that today’s objective and subjective conditions have increased the latency for an emergent global civic identity has been argued by the authors of the Global Scenario Group’s final report Great Transition: the Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead. Similar arguments for the existence of a latent pool of tens of millions of people ready to identify around new values of earth consciousness have been put forth by such authors as Paul Raskin (see World Lines: Pathways, Pivots, and the Global Future), Paul Ray (see Cultural Creatives[5]), and David Korten (see Great Turning). Organizations, such as Oxfam International believe that a global citizens movement rooted in social and economic justice is emerging and is necessary for ending global poverty.[6] The Global Scenario Group (GSG) was a team of environmental scholars, headed by Paul Raskin, who used scenario analysis to analyze future paths for world development in the face of environmental pressures and crises. ... Dr. Paul Raskin is President of the Tellus Institute where he directs a team of professionals in environmental, resource, and development policy research. ... Paul Ray is a member of the Utah House of Representatives in the USA. He represents the 13th district which covers North West Davis County. ... Cultural Creatives is a term coined by sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson to describe a large segment in Western society that has recently developed beyond the standard paradigm of Modernists versus Traditionalists or Conservatists. ... Dr. David C. Korten is an author and leader within the anti-globalization movement. ... Oxfam International, founded in 1995, is a confederation of 12 independent, not-for-profit, secular, community-based aid and development organisations who work with local partners in over 100 countries worldwide to reduce poverty, suffering, and injustice. ...

Visions of a Global Citizens Movement

In the last chapter of his book, Red Sky at Morning, Gus Speth describes the potential for a new type of social movement composed of "we the people, as citizens" rooted in the principles of the Earth Charter to lead the transition in consciousness and values necessary for the emergence of a new planetary civilization.[7] James Gustave (Gus) Speth was a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) while in his last year at Yale Law School and later established the World Resources Institute. ... Earth Charter logo The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental values and principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. ...

Orion Kriegman, author of Dawn of the Cosmopolitan: The Hope of a Global Citizens Movement, states, “Transnational corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) remain powerful global actors, but all of these would be deeply influenced by a coherent, worldwide association of millions of people who call for priority to be placed on new values of quality of life, human solidarity, and environmental sustainability.”

Kriegman distinguishes this “coherent, worldwide association of millions” from the existing fragmented social movements active in the World Social Forum. These movements tend to be issue-specific – focused on labor, environment, human rights, feminist issues, indigenous struggles, poverty, AIDS, and numerous other interrelated but “siloed” efforts. Coherence among these movements would require a reframing of their work under the rubric of the struggle for a socially just and ecologically sustainable global society and the establishment of an institutional structure to defend the rights of humanity, future generations, and the biosphere. Kriegman asserts, “The upsurge of civil society activity, in the form of NGOs and social movements, over the past few decades can be understood as an early manifestation of the latency in the global system, and at the same time this transnational activity helps deepen the latency. However, existing social movements have not found a way to effectively balance the creative tension between pluralism and coherence to provide a collective framework for theory and action. Without a shared framework, it is hard to imagine how the latent potential would coalesce into a global systemic movement. The development of a shared framework will depend on new forms of leadership to facilitate engaged dialogue inclusive of diverse voices.” This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Critiques of a Global Citizens Movement

The major critique of the notion of a global citizens movement centers around the potential for the emergence of solidarity on issues at the global level. Nationalism, racism, and the dominance of the Westphalian state system are considered antithetical to the adoption of a global civic identity. However, some scholars point out that the historical emergence of nationalism must have felt just as improbable in a time of warring city-states,[8] and yet in retrospect it appears inevitable.[9]

A more radical critique stems from the arguments put forth by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their book Multitude and enshrines Foucault’s notion of a “plurality of resistance”[10] as the only legitimate path forward. This argument asserts that an organized movement among the vast multitude is both undesirable and impossible. Instead of leadership and organizational structures, Hardt and Negri put faith in the emergence of spontaneous coherence do to increasing self-organized networks among various autonomous resistance movements. They critique the notion that there could be legitimate leaders, democratically chosen through a formal network of grassroots structures, acting on behalf of a big-tent pluralistic association of global citizens to directly confront the entrenched power of transnational corporations and state governments. However, it remains unclear how a network of autonomous movements would differ in practice from the vision of an authentic global citizens movement. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Antonio Toni Negri (born August 1, 1933) is an Italian Marxist political philosopher. ... Multitude is a term of Spinozas taken up by political theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in the international best-seller Empire (2000) and expanded upon in their recent Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004). ...


  1. ^ George, Susan. 2001. Global citizens movement: A new actor for a new politics TNI
  2. ^ Kriegman, Orion. 2006. Dawn of the Cosmopolitan: The Hope of a Global Citizens Movement Boston: Tellus Institute
  3. ^ Guidry, J., M. Kennedy, and M. Zald (eds). 2003. Globalizations and Social Movements: Culture, Power, and the Transnational Public Sphere. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  4. ^ Appiah, K. 2006. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time). New York: W.W. Norton.
  5. ^ Ray, P. and S. Anderson. 2000. The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World. New York: Three Rivers Press.
  6. ^ Oxfam International. 2001. Towards Global Equity
  7. ^ James Gustave Speth. 2004. Red Sky at Morning. New York: Yale University Press
  8. ^ Anderson, B. R. 1991. Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London; New York: Verso.
  9. ^ Rajan, Chella. 2006. Global Politics and Institutions. Boston: Tellus Institute
  10. ^ Foucault, M. 1980. The History of Sexuality. New York: Vintage Books.

James Gustave (Gus) Speth was a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) while in his last year at Yale Law School and later established the World Resources Institute. ...


Florini, A. 2000. The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society. New York: Carnegie Endowment. ISBN 0-87003-180-5

Gelder, Melinda. 2006. Meeting the Enemy, Becoming a Friend. Boulder: Bauu Press. ISBN 0-9721349-5-6

Kriegman, Orion and Great Transition Initiative. 2006. "Global citizens movement." Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland. (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment).

Mayo, Marjorie. 2005. Global Citizens: Social Movements and the Challenge of Globalization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-13 9781842771389

Raskin, P., T. Banuri, G. Gallopín, P. Gutman, A. Hammond, R. Kates, and R. Swart. 2002. The Great Transition: The Promise and the Lure of the Times Ahead. Boston, MA: Tellus Institute.

External links

  • Global Citizenship Conference -- Interdisciplinary conference held at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada to discuss issues pertinent to Global Citizens
  • Great Transition Initiative -- the GTI Paper Series and framework offers further context for discussion of a Global Citizens Movement
  • Encyclopedia of the Earth -- has an entry on the Global Citizens Movement under the category of Sustainable Development
  • NPR Radio Show Earth&Sky-- examines implications of potential for crisis in the Human World (i.e. Anthropocene) for mobilization of humanity to create a better world
  • Who Will Change the World? – an article and discussion on Earth & Sky about a Global Citizens Movement
  • Global Culture Essays on the influence of Global Citizens



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