Active Citizenship and Quality of Democracy – LUISS students meet Prof. Giovanni Moro

moropptOn November, 19th the students attending the course “Communication theory” held by Professor Sorice at the department of Political Science of LUISS Guido Carli, had the possibility to meet Professor Giovanni Moro and to talk with him about “Active Citizenship and Quality of Democracy”.

Giovanni Moro was born in Rome in 1958. He is a political and organization sociologist who conducts research and consultations on citizenship and on related issues, such as civic activism in public policy, new forms of Governance and corporate responsibility.

He teaches Political Sociology at the Faculty of Education at the Roma Tre University, and he has been president of FONDACA since its foundation in 2001. He has written extensively on these themes and in 2001 he established his network of European politics, the Active Citizenship Network.

The lecture of Professor Moro started with a foreword about his book, which stresses the quality of democracy and how active citizenship has to deal with it. “My research works deal with anomalies – affirmed Professor Moro – as the philosopher Thomas Kuhn pointed out during the 60’s”.

As we should know, a paradigm changes when anomalies emerge and create new standards. Professor Moro studies and analyses anomalies in the democratic citizenship paradigm and states that “the activism is one of these anomalies”.

After having recalled to the audience the differences between point of view and standpoint, Moro explained what there is inside the democratic citizenship paradigm, namely working together for a common goal, to guarantee quality of life standards and to have these standards recognised by everyone and, finally, to build an institutional system which protects all these issues. “This paradigm takes into account the principles of equality, membership and participation, but it does not work anymore” stated Professor Moro.

This paradigm does not work anymore for various reasons, such as the existence of lots of social groups and, consequently, new democratic citizenship paradigms in the plural sense emerge, which include people continuously moving, ideas always changing and a modification in the mass culture. “All of these traits represent anomalies and contribute to the evolution of the democratic citizenship paradigm” affirmed Professor Moro closing his opening remarks.

Then, he continued his enriching lecture following some clear paths.

The first one cleared the audience’s mind about the concept of active citizenship. “Active citizenship is a practice of citizenship that consists of a variety of organizational forms and collective actions designed to implement rights, treating commons and/or support people in conditions of weakness through the exercise of powers and responsibilities in policy making”. This was the general definition given by Professor Moro who soon explained how this kind of citizenship is divided into different forms of organization with different action fields, that however have to play three or more roles, such as the protection of rights that are proclaimed in laws or patrimony of the common consciousness which are constantly in danger, the care of the Commons and the empowerment of and support to people in difficulty.

The organizations which I am referring to operate through advocacy and through providing services. “I have to say that citizens have very strong powers. I mean the power of influence on the course of things and on the behaviour of other subjects” Professor Moro stated referring to all that innate power that the organizations hold, such as the power of producing knowledge (e.g. knowledge on illegal dumps), symbolic power to make consciences change (e.g. on themes regarding women’s rights), effective power (e.g. to remove architectural barriers for handicapped people) and power of legitimization.

Secondly, Professor Moro explained how these organizations work, and provided the audience with some results of the effective existence of these organizations. “It would be a catastrophe if these organizations were unable to operate as civic organizations all over the world was the sharable statement made by Professor Moro. Indeed, some of the results collected by these organizations concern enacting laws, activating resources, changing the mass culture and introducing new ways of administration and management of public services.

Getting back to the first remarks, Professor Moro explained why these organizations represent a civic anomaly. They are an anomaly both compared to the Standard View of the participation, both as opposed to the before mentioned democratic citizenship paradigm. Actually, on the one hand we can see how these anomalies exist autonomously from the formal political system, act in policies not in politics, and do not involve the whole electoral constituency. On the other hand, as opposed to the democratic citizenship paradigm, they change the concepts of belonging, participation and rights, seeing the citizens not only as beneficiary but as promoters of rights not acknowledged yet.

Lastly, Professor Moro focused more in depth on the topic of the seminar, that was active citizenship and quality of democracy. “It is an interesting issue because it permits to understand how much a country is democratic and under which aspects it must be empowered or is considered at an excellent point” he affirmed. To do this, Professor Moro has analysed what Professor Leonardo Morlino theorized in 2013 about the three dimensions and the various standards of democratic quality, and he added very useful specifications regarding other standards and specifications, which can be then converted into indicators.

After having answered to some questions from the audience, Professor Sorice made a closing remark and thanked Professor Moro, the students and the Labgovers who attended the seminar .