Revista CIDOB d'Afers Internacionals

Planetary politics: reviving the spirit of the concept of “global civil society”

Publication date:
Sabine Selchow

Sabine Selchow, Senior Research Fellow, ERC Advanced Grant ECOINT (n.º 885285), Department of History, European University Institute (EUI).

This paper analyses the concept of “global civil society” – which played a major role in the symbolic construction of the post-Cold War social reality – and reflects on its initial purpose as a critique of the conventional perceptions of state-centric politics and as a change of approach, towards non-party politics and cross-border activism. While it opened new horizons for the empirical analysis of “globalisation from below”, this concept failed to prompt a radical epistemological change; it did not succeed in generating knowledge that transcended “methodological nationalism”. The paper maintains that what once constituted the concept’s disruptive potential – its conceptual enmeshment with the idea of globalisation, reflected in the adjective global – ultimately tamed it. Drawing on this premise, the aim is to rekindle the spirit of the notion of “global civil society” by introducing a concept that takes up and pushes forward this unachieved goal: “planetary politics”.

Key words: global civil society, methodological nationalism, globalisation, planetary politics

This article is a shortened version of the paper "Planetary politics: reviving the spirit of the concept 'global civil society' (originally in: Civil Society: Concepts, Challenges, Contexts: Essays in Honor of Helmut K. Anheier. Charm: Springer International Publishing, 2022. 189-204)

How to cite this article:  Selchow, Sabine. «Política planetaria: reactivar el espíritu del concepto de “sociedad civil global”». Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals, n.º 134 (septiembre de 2023), p. 119-130. DOI:

Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals, nº 134, p. 119-130
Cuatrimestral (mayo-septiembre 2023)
ISSN:1133-6595 | E-ISSN:2013-035X

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