Mainstream research on the roles and contribution of civil society in the EU is characterised by a strong focus on European civil society in Brussels. Studies looking at activities and roles of national CSOs in the European Union (EU) depart from mainstream analytical and conceptual perspectives and rarely talk to each other. The contributions of this special issue attempt to bridge empirical and analytical gaps between existing studies on European civil society beyond Brussels. They show that the involvement of national CSOs in EU policymaking and democratisation is broader and more diverse than is usually thought. They approach the object of study from an original analytical perspective: a research agenda inspired by sociological approaches. This agenda hinges on an interactionist and pragmatic analytical framework, a pluralist approach to causality and takes into account the peculiarities and effects of context. Moving beyond Brussels and adopting diverse analytical perspectives, the contributions provide new evidence on the diversity of functions, roles and responses of national CSOs to the EU, and the roles and motivations of national CSOs implementing EU policies.
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