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Title: Socio-psychological aspects of grassroots participation in the Transition Movement: An Italian case study
Authors: Biddau, Fulvio
Armenti, Alessandra
Cottone, Paolo
Issue Date: 24-May-2016
Publisher: PsychOpen
Abstract: In this article, we present a case study investigating the socio-psychological aspects of grassroots participation in a Transition Town Movement (TTM) community initiative. We analyzed the first Italian Transition initiative: Monteveglio (Bologna), the central hub of the Italian TTM and a key link with the global Transition Network. A qualitative methodology was used to collect and analyze the data consisting of interviews with key informants and ethnographic notes. The results provide further evidence supporting the role of social representations, shared social identities, and collective efficacy beliefs in promoting, sustaining, and shaping activists’ commitment. The movement seems to have great potential to inspire and engage citizens to tackle climate change at a community level. Grassroots engagement of local communities working together provides the vision and the material starting point for a viable pathway for the changes required. Attempting to ensure their future political relevance, the TTM adherents are striving to disseminate and materially consolidate inherently political and prefigurative movement frames – primarily community resilience and re-localization – within community socio-economic and political frameworks. However, cooperation with politics is perceived by most adherents as a frustrating and dissatisfying experience, and an attempted co-optation of the Transition initiative by institutions. It highlights a tension between the open and non-confrontational approach of the movement towards institutions and their practical experience. Corresponding to this tension, activists have to cope with conflicts, contradictions, and ambivalence of social representations about community action for sustainability, which threaten the sense of collective purpose, group cohesion and ultimately its survival.
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