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Sara Kalm

Sara Kalm

Associate Professor | Senior Lecturer

Sara Kalm

The field of EU civil society: organizational resources and elite positions1


  • Håkan Johansson
  • Sara Kalm

Summary, in English

Since the turn of the Millennium, there have been extensive debates on the relationship between the European Union (EU) and civil society. EU institutions have tended to regard associations and organizations of civil society as way to counterbalance the EU’s democratic deficit and/or as a means to foster effective implementation of policies. Much research has accordingly analysed how EU discourses, policies and governance arrangements shape civil society and civil society actors operating in Brussels. However, we find much less scholarly attention into relations internal to civil society itself – that is, how civil society actors cooperate and form alliances but also compete over positions, resources and the “rules of the game”. This oversight is unfortunate, as the increased access for civil society actors to EU institutions signify that some of them may become important power-holders themselves and therefore should be open to scrutiny. Research is hence needed to explore power relations and stratifications within civil society, and this paper is a step in that direction. Based on an analysis of economic, political and social and network resources, across both organizational and individual dimensions, this paper argues that the field is divided between positions of political influence and positions of civic representation where former draws more heavily on various forms of political and economic resources where the latter requires forms social and network resources. The paper engages in studies of elite profiles, discussing the outline of a civil society elite across field divides.


  • School of Social Work
  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Social Work


  • civil society
  • elite
  • EU

Conference name

European Consortium for Political Research, SGEU Conference

Conference date

2018-06-12 - 2018-06-15

Conference place

Paris, France