The processes of political participation that are the subject of the case studies to be examined in this chapter, rest on a number of preconditions which need to be considered, at least in general terms. In the last analysis, it is very difficult to explain why a collective protest movement occurs at a given time and place and a single ‘primary cause’ is not to be found. Nevertheless, our aim is to discover, first, what forms of action and what kinds of legitimising devices protest movements employ in order to put pressure on the public authorities to take account of their demands. Secondly, we shall seek to assess the effects of the processes of mobilisation on the politico-administrative system in order to discover to what extent they influence its workings.
THE CONDITIONS FOR LOCAL POLITICAL MOBILISATION
Why, and under what conditions, do individuals group themselves together at a particular moment and organise themselves to oppose a public policy decision? Not every public decision leads to collective participation. For this to occur, the potential negative consequences of the decision have, first, to be recognised; leaders have to establish and organise a collective movement; the relevant interests have to be activated. In this way, processes of mobilisation might be considered to depend on a number of pre-existing conditions which, at least in part, constrain the form which they can take.
This section will, therefore, look at a number of these pre-conditions for a process of mobilisation to develop and, in particular, at the nature of the decisions involved, the role of the activists and, finally, the reasons why the various participants became involved in the movements.