In this Special Issue, we show that the study of civil society, social movements, and protest is central for assessing the current state of German politics. First, moving beyond political parties and electoral politics delivers crucial insights into the ideological, affective, and organisational structuring of emerging polarisation and cleavages. Second, the transformations in electoral politics are closely interrelated with dynamics in civil society. Building on these perspectives, the contributions to the Special Issue underline that, due to the emergence of new cleavages, Germany, like other European countries, has seen a double transformation of its landscape of political contestation: ‘New contentious politics’ is on the rise, marked by new issues and claims as well as hybrid organisational forms and close interactions between protest and electoral politics. Importantly, in contrast to long-held assumptions, protest is not the exclusive terrain of ‘progressive’ forces and not shaped by increasingly differentiated arenas of mobilisation. Based on a broad range of cases and methods, the contributions take stock of social movement and civil society activism in Germany since the 2000s, i.e. in an era of multiple crises and increasing polarisation.
Hutter, Swen & Manes Weisskircher (2022) New Contentious Politics. Civil Society, Social Movements, and the Polarisation of German Politics, German Politics. DOI: 10.1080/09644008.2022.2044474.