Networked Politics

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Book and research project


Book: Networked Politics: rethinking political organisation in an age of movements and networks. A reader produced by TNI, Transform! Italia, IGOP and Euromovements. January 2007

Full online version at


Networked Politics is the product of a collaborative research process for rethinking political organisation in an age of movements and networks. In a world where the traditional institutions of democratic control have been weakened by an unconstrained global market and superpower military ambitions, it uncovers diverse forms of resistance with the potential to create new institutions for social change. The authors set out the principles upon which such transformations should be based, and the challenges that stand in the way of their realisation.

The discussion is then pursued along four interrelated lines of inquiry. These examine social movements, including their development of new forms of knowledge and organisation; progressive political parties, and attempts to bring about transformative forms of political respresentation; the dangers and opportunities facing the development of political institutions in a network society; and the potential of new techno-political tools for facilitating and reconceiving political organisation. A series of case studies are also offered, drawing critical lessons from the experience of the German Green Party; the 2006 French mobilisation against the controversial CPE employment law; and an extended discussion on 'open source as a metaphor for new institutions'.


Networked Politics presents 'work in progress' that was discussed at seminars in Barcelona, Manchester and Bologna by:

Ezequiel Adamovsky, Christophe Aguiton, David Beetham, Franco Berardi (‘Bifo’), Marco Berlinguer, Quim Brugué, Salvatore Buonamici, Angel Calle, Geraldo Campos, Dominique Cardon, Luciana Castelina, Pedro Chavez, Branka Curcic, Alex Foti, Jane Foot, Mayo Fuster Morell, Gemma Galdon Clavell, Ricard Gomà, Cornelia Hildebrandt, Brian Holmes, Jamie King, Carolyn Leckie, Achour Boukkaz Mehdi, Sandro Mezzadra, Moema Miranda, Alan McCombes, Javier Navascués, Jaume Nualart, Lluc Pelàez, Inês Pereira, Sheila Rowbotham, Joan Subirats, Marco Trotta, Iñaki Vazquez, Ricard Vilaregut, Asbjorn Wahl, Hilary Wainwright, Frieder Otto Wolf

Editors: Hilary Wainwright, Oscar Reyes, Marco Berlinguer, Fiona Dove, Mayo Fuster Morell and Joan Subirats

Online Availability of Subsections

  • Introduction

  • Principles and Challenges

  • Lines of Inquiry

  • Discussion: Open source as a metaphor for new institutions

  • Conclusion: Lingering thoughts and unanswered questions

Research Project

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"In broad terms, Networked Politics is an inquiry into the shift from centralized and hierarchical forms of organization towards decentralized and horizontal forms from the perspective of new ways of organising for social change. Of course hierarchical and centralizing tendencies persist and even appear in new forms, but we are struck by how organisational logics and forms of a similar kind are emerging in many different spheres.

The nature of 'networked politics', even those elements of it that have been identified and discussed is still unclear. It is still very much an emerging reality. There is much that is unknown and many questions about how to conceptualise the innovations, the potentialities and the problems associated with it. We think it is useful systematically to reflect on the consequences and ambiguities of these new realities. And although our focus in this search is the changing forms of political organization we are learning from experiences and metaphors in other spheres.

The main experiences which have led us to this research are the Social Forums models of organizing. But we have been also exploring the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement and the web communities, inspired by their organizational parallels with the Social Forums. We have also been investigating “techno-political tools”: conscious attempts to introduce the new information and communication technologies into processes of  political action and organization.     

What are the changes in the relations and character of power, of the production of identity and the process group identification and cohesion in the new networked forms of political organization? What are the pros and cons of open spaces (spaces of networking and self-production/organization without a centre)? How does the role of 'infrastructure providers' change in such conditions? What is the character of the leadership and the dynamic of democratic processes and of accountability in networks? What could be the possibilities of a logic of parallel co-governing replacing hierarchical command? How could institutions work that facilitate participation, in contrast to managing representation? And what, by contrast, are the limits, the failures and the traps of these forms of organization? These are only some of the questions that arise from this new frontier of research.

The research is action oriented. The plan is to reflect not in abstract terms but through concrete experiences, not to leave theory in the air but to try to be useful, to improve existing political organizing and to create new connections.

The Networked Politics project is a collaborative research project started in 2005. It is being supported by a network of European organizations: Transform! Italia, Transnational Institute (Amsterdam), Euromovements – techno-political node and IGOP- Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. It has had the support of the CCCB (Barcelona) and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Berlin). Its main activities are the organization of seminars, collective publications and ongoing conversation through the web ( The seminars have been a series of conversations that have put very different people - in terms of experiences and traditions - creatively in contact with each other. The seminars also combine new people and people who have participated in previous seminars in order to facilitate continuity of the discussion. Each new seminar starts by reviewing the reflections and ideas aroused from the previous ones. Seminars had take place during the past three years at Porto Alegre and Nairobi (during World Social Forum events), Athens (during the European Social Forum), Bologna, Manchester, Barcelona and Berlin (during the Anti-G8 Summit)."