Cultures of participatory democracy and Europeanization from below in the Italian, British and German Social Forums - To what extent can grassroots activists in different sectors of the global justice movements participate in transnational, Europe-wide social forum meetings held between larger protest events, transnational summits and everyday activism - not only dependent on structural, but also cultural patterns of communication and cooperation in movement groups? This question concerns students of European integration as well as thinkers of democracy beyond the nation state, and activists that seek to mobilize a critical discussion on the future of global and European politics. Social movement researchers and cultural sociologists have pointed to the practical challenges of participatory democracy in asymmetric networks composed of groups with pluralist cultural and material resources. Building on ethnographic data and interviews, this article looks at experiments in -deliberative talk-, or discursive democracy in national level social forum preparatory meetings in three different countries. The aim is to compare the challenges and opportunities of coalition building looking at organizational crisis and conflict in domestic social forum processes in Italy, Germany and the UK. This article shows that place-specific cultures of communication and cooperation in the national level social forum processes conditioned and restricted the quality of grassroots participation in the European assemblies and encounters of the ESF. Finally, the article shows that institutional brokerage helps facilitate transnational grassroots mobilization and a "Europeanization from below" in the case of the ESF process.
Keywords: Deliberative Setting, European Social Forum, Grassroots participation, Europeanization from below, Left-wing parties, Institutional Brokerage.